Thomas Goetz

Speech Topics

Amid all the chatter about big data, analytics, and evidence based on medicine, one dataset gets short shrift: the experience of real people in the real world. This experience – from personal histories to personal preferences and concerns – is too often considered irrelevant to clinical care: messy at best, mere noise at worst. But this must change: the patient experience should be combined with clinical values to derive powerful correlations that reveal a wealth of insights about what really works. This approach promotes the opportunity for better patient care and clinical outcomes. Healthcare stands at an inflection point, where personal experience is emerging as perhaps the most valuable dataset in medicine.  This keynote explores why we are at the dawn of truly personal medicine and discuss strategies for health leaders to be positioned at the forefront of this exciting trend.

Learning Objectives:

· Explain the concept of experience-driven medicine and the opportunities it presents for the health industry

· Discuss ways health leaders can leverage collected data to improve care and engage patients

· Identify future trends and how health executives can lead their organization’s efforts to fully utilize their data

How does a scientific discovery become a social revolution? Looking at the Internet or genomics, they seem nearly contiguous – new innovations are what change society. But in truth, the path between a laboratory insight and cultural impact is long and torturous, as every scientist knows.

In this talk, drawn from his new book, The Remedy, Goetz explores everything from the Iowa corn farming to the germ theory of disease to Sherlock Holmes to the Internet, and explores how invention is not always the same thing as innovation – and how much harder it can be to convince society than to discover science.

He shows how what we assume to be basic human nature – such as disgust over germs – is in fact entirely learned behavior, and how our faith in science is as much driven by emotion as by reason. He also shows how we each can take hold of innovations ahead of the curve, and turn them into insights ahead of the crowd. A brain-expanding talk full of great stories and big ideas.

For the most part, people know what people should do to improve their health. We just don’t know how to convince them to do it. Brochures and guidebooks leave people cold, and health & wellness programs are intensive, expensive, and often lack evidence. So what works?

As vexing as human behavior can be, it turns out that people not only want to engage in their health, they want to understand it – to actually track how they might take action, and to make a difference in their lives. More than just providing information, this means delivering it in a form that resonates with people, that engages them personally. And that means bringing the beauty and elegance of design thinking to healthcare.

In this talk, Thomas draws on his years championing great design at WIRED, as well as original research he’s recently conducted at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Through powerful visualizations that resonate with individuals, as well as failed designs that left people cold, he explores three basic principles of turning important data into compelling design (evidence, relevance, and consequence). It’s an inspiring and revealing exploration of why design can be the most powerful technology of all.

Why is it that can predict the next book you’ll want to buy – but your doctor can’t anticipate whether you’ll actually take your medication as directed? How can Yelp guide you to the perfect restaurant for your anniversary, but a hospital can’t provide a room where you’ll actually get some sleep? The Internet has optimized almost every aspect of our lives, but the one realm where it matters most – our health – we’re largely on our own.

Until now. Data science and information design are finally coming to healthcare, and starting to change what we should expect – as users, as consumers, as customers – of our health services. This talk explores the vanguard of analytics on the consumer internet, and explores how these tools and techniques can be applied to healthcare through three phases: Personalization, Engagement, and Prediction.


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Thomas Goetz is an authority in the design and communication of healthcare data and information. His 2010 TED talk on visualizing medical data has been viewed half a million times.

He is the co-founder and CEO of Iodine, a digital health company based in San Francisco that’s pioneering the use of data and design to improve consumers’ healthcare decisions.

Previously he was executive editor at WIRED, where he led the magazine to a dozen National Magazine Awards for print and digital excellence from 2001 through 2012 and being chosen by Adweek as Magazine of the Decade in 2010. His writing there was repeatedly selected for the Best American Science Writing and Best Technology Writing anthologies.

He recently served as the first Entrepreneur-in-Residence for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, where he created Flip The Clinic, an RWJ Signature Program working to transform the practitioner-patient encounter.

His new book, The Remedy: Robert Koch, Arthur Conan Doyle, and the Quest to Cure Tuberculosis, was chosen by Amazon as a Best Book of 2014. His previous book, The Decision Tree, was chosen by the Wall Street Journal as a Best Health book of 2010, and widely hailed as offering a new vision for healthcare in the United States. Thomas also writes the LaunchPad column for Inc. Magazine.

Goetz holds a Master of Public Health degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and a Master’s in American literature from the University of Virginia. He graduated from Bates College, and plays the cello.

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