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In early April, TEDMED hosted a conference in which the sole purpose was to discuss the future of health care and medicine as researched and studied by experts and thought leaders from all over the world. We were excited to hear that one of these experts was Rebecca Onie, the co-founder and CEO of Health Leads, and someone we have worked closely with in recent years.

Health Leads is an organization that has set out to change the lives of low-income families by addressing the non-medical factors that influence health. As a result, these families can lead healthier and more sustainable lives. By enlisting the help of college-aged volunteers, Health Leads has been able to change hundreds of lives. We had the privilege of working with the organization directly when they were looking to expand nationally. Together, we helped them to re-build their brand around one critical mission: connecting patients to the basic resources they need to be healthy. Last year we produced a documentary short, An Innovative Prescription for Better Health, which highlights the valuable contributions Health Leads has made to the world of health care.

Ms. Onie’s panel at TEDMED, entitled Rewriting Healthcare’s DNA, discusses the birth of Health Leads, how she came to the idea of providing basic resources as part of health care initiatives and her philosophy of creating a society where people put forth efforts towards being healthy rather than using resources to get healthy. Onie’s ideal society is one where success is measured by diseases prevented by leading a proper lifestyle rather than diseases cured by not having access to the most basic necessities. Onie begs the question, why shouldn’t doctors be able to prescribe malnourished patients food on a pharmacy budget if that is the proper treatment? Watch the video of Onie’s Talk below.

Other experts included Judith Salerno and John Hoffman, who produced a 4-part HBO documentary series, which premiered in May, entitled “The Weight of the Nation.” The series presents an in depth analysis and large-scale public health campaign exploring the obesity epidemic in America. Many experts believe the first part of the 21st century will be viewed by future generations as “the obesity era”, with 69% of adults classified as overweight or obese, and type 2 diabetes becoming more and more prevalent among 10-13 year old children. The panel explores the consequences of obesity not only on an individual level, but a national level, as the life expectancy of future generations could possibly be lower than their parents for the first time in history. Watch the video of Salerno and Hoffman’s Talk below.

TEDMED writes of the community and purpose surrounding the conference, “TEDMED has no agenda and no policy prescriptions. Instead, we seek to serve the nation — and the world — by creating a safe place where people with very different ideas can come together to talk, to learn and to celebrate the amazing world we live in.” Although the discussion topics explored during the conference vary in levels of gravity and relevance, all contribute to a greater understanding and awareness of the state of health care in the world today. We are so often isolated from the most basic health care problems and organizations like TEDMED allow the masses to be exposed to the world’s leading experts on medical and health issues as to better prepare society for a more prosperous and beneficial future.