My crazy life ride with Regina Holliday, at #TEDxAlvaPark , Detroit Michigan, USA

As we were walking out of the #TEDxAlvaPark speaker dinner at The Henry Ford (@TheHenryFord) the night before the event, I asked Regina if we should make any changes to our talk, now that we had interacted with the other amazing, accomplished presenters. Her response frames the title of this post:

So that’s what we did. Our slides are below, the YouTube video is coming soon, and here are the live tweet photos I took of Regina from the stage:

Get it? It was amazing.

What we did the day before was also amazing. When I asked Regina if she would rather (a) Go to the Motown Museum and see the room where Diana Ross changed history or (b) Go to Wayne State Medical School , tour by Phil Kucab (@phillipkucab), she chose the Medical School. Why? Because she’s on a mission, and she wants to learn.

So we went, and I saw so many artifacts that showed that medical education is changing. There’s a small medical student art gallery. The ping pong room (every medical school has one), has a make shift photo studio where Phil photographs people for World AIDS Day Detroit (@AIDSdayDetroit). These may be imperceptible to the students there today, but I sure noticed them because I had access to neither, much less to a patient advocate visiting me when I was in medical school.

Regina says I tend to notice things on the edges that are significant (to me anyway). When I picked out my favorite photographs of the trip, I realized that they are of the moments of flow, where Phil was showing us his world from behind a grand piano, Regina inspiring Allison, Phil’s colleague, who has an art history background and beautiful photograph on display, me watching Phil and Regina talking over lunch and thinking, “I’m trying to keep up with these two.” It’s life in the innovation clown car. I never want to get out of it.

As I have said on here before, I don’t use a camera to take pictures, I use it to capture the beauty of the human spirit. I took so many photographs in just 24 hours, many more than I usually do, which tells me something about what I found in Detroit with Regina :). Below are my favorites, you can access the whole collection here.

With great thanks to our hosts at the Henry Ford Health System Innovation Institute (@HenryFordIdeas), and the institution it supports, is part of, and trains a new generation of leaders. The woman in the sunglasses, by the way, is Taryn Simon, our most excellent host, who unfortunately was in a car accident the day before. She’s doing fine, but I had to get a few shots of “Texts from Taryn” , don’t worry, there won’t be a Tumblog with this one :).

Being atypical, the TEDx rules, and Regina Holliday, at #TEDxAlvaPark – November 8, 2012

Click to enlarge, or click here to view on

According to the TEDx General Rules:

The typical presentation should be an 18-minute talk by a single presenter. No talk should exceed 18 minutes. No panels. No break-out sessions. Usually: No podium.

We’re following most of them except for the part about the single presenter, at TEDxAlvaPark , which will happen at Henry Ford Innovation Institute (@HenryFordIdeas), on November 8, 2012, in Detroit, Michigan.

Here’s the title slide from our talk, and here’s how this happened.

After TEDxAlvaPark 2011 (See: TEDx AlvaPark, Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, where “any idea is welcome” | Ted Eytan, MD), Henry Ford’s Magician-in-Chief, Madhu Prasad, MD, asked if I might like to give a talk in 2012.

I politely declined, especially after watching 2011’s presenters, including Veronika Scott, who kind of blew me away with her passion, drive, and spirt of Detroit.

Then I think he asked again a few times, and then I decided I could give the talk, if I could give it with Regina Holliday (@ReginaHolliday). Everyone including Regina said yes.

And so, we’re doing this one together, and the theme is perfect – it’s “The embrace of failure,” and as usual, Regina takes my comfort zone, smashes it to pieces, and resets its boundaries farther away.

This talk includes live tweeting, bouncing ball games, and painted jackets.

Will we pull it off? Did I believe one day that I’d be doing something like this, this way? Probably not, but if I saw into the future how much fun it was going to be, I’d probably be okay with it :).

Oh, one last thing, I’m dedicating this post to my inspirator and colleague Aaron Hardisty (@AaronHardisty) at the Garfield Innovation Center (@KPGarfield), who sent the tweet below to me 2 weeks ago. You didn’t lose anything, my friend, not a thing.

Hashtags: #TEDxAlvaPark and #ReginaTEDTed – follow us!

Photo Friday: Story of incredible innovation – at Hitsville, USA

I took this photograph right at the moment that my colleague Kristin ( @krisitnjuel ) realized that she had arrived. Soon after, I realized I had arrived, too. What an amazing lesson in innovation there is at the Motown museum ( @motown_museum ).

What happened was that we had just returned from a tour of the Ford Rouge Plant, in Dearborn, Michigan. This plant is a multibillion modern marvel, complete with green room, LEAN production techniques, showcasing the best in American ingenuity on a grand scale.

On our way back to the host venue, after passing the museum multiple times, I agreed to take a quick detour to the Motown Museum. It showed me so much about how incredible innovation, much more than I expected. We learned about how a 30 year-old Berry Gordy connected with the social network of people in their early teens and 20’s, who packed into a small room known as the snake pit, with no air conditioning (it created too much noise), lots of cigarette smoke, and a two track recorder, meaning that each take had to be executed perfectly. Detroit was put on the world map in an era where it shouldn’t have been. When he learned that a DJ would only play 3 songs from a single record label in an hour, he just created new record labels, and moved songs between artists for maximum exposure.

We were standing in the room with photographs like this, where Diana Ross and Smokey Robinson created the greatest hits of their time (and I’ll say of all time). If you know Kristin, you know how much music is a part of her life, and that it’s no surprise she had a tear in her eye as we walked through the space. I may have had a little one, too. Innovation and creativity in a time and place of constraint is emotionally powerful – it’s the triumph of the human spirit.

So that’s the story behind the photograph. My photos of the Ford plant are below. Unfortunately neither Ford nor the Motown museum allow taking pictures inside their production areas. 

I wanted to share what we experienced because it will shape dialogues I have about innovation for a long time to come. All of this is available in a little house a block away from the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, Michigan, USA.

Oh, PS, see that green line in the parking lot at Ford? We were told that workers that drive Ford vehicles to work are allowed to park their cars on the side of the line that is closer to the plant so they don’t have to walk as far. It made me think, what if the drivers of the Ford vehicles were rewarded with parking farther away from the plant instead :).

Exploring the Weight of the Nation, and Washington, DC, and Detroit

I got to speak to Jim Marks, MD, the Senior Vice President and Director of the Health Group for Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (@JamesSMarks48) because I won the monthly RWJF Alumni Social Network profile contest (it feels good to win at these times…), and I asked him about social determinants of health. He said to me (and I’m paraphrasing): “social determinants will not take the place of what people do for themselves and their families. We structure choices so that the right thing to do is the easy thing to do.”

With that in mind, and with the series Weight of the Nation on last night, I did some exploration, partly based on this, and partly based on a question my colleague Jan Ground ( @janground ) asked, which was, “Is obesity correlated with poverty?”

Because our friends at Community Commons have set up a special Weight of the Nation page with information , data kits, and the like, I ran some queries on Washington, DC:

As I’ve pointed out on this blog before (See: Do national numbers inaccurately represent Washington, DC’s obesity condition? ), any state or county-wide obesity % for Washington, DC, is going to be wrong, because we have wards with the lowest obesity rates in the United States ( 12 percent! ) and the highest, higher than Mississippi ( 42 percent! ). I’ve just pointed those out rather than putting the data on the maps.

You tell me if there’s a correlation.

Since I’m in Detroit right now for the Innovation Learning Network ( @HealthcareILN ) in person meeting, I decided to look at similar data for the Detroit area. I added the obesity % layer to the map because I believe that this region doesn’t have the same issue as DC (but I just did it this morning, you tell me).

We thought the first two segments of the show are important and educational for the American population. And now, in the era of open data, we don’t have to stop at admiring (or being afraid of) the pictures on the screen. One thing that came up was the image of the man with the “ARMY” T-shirt during the segment. We take for granted that this logo is commonly worn by people who have served, however, two of our colleagues watching the show with us serve as leaders in our military and spoke to us about how it made them feel to see that. How would it make me feel to see our health system logo being worn by a person who is struggling to stay healthy in their environment?

Because the viewing party was for this show, I made sure to pick up healthy snacks. Notice what I noticed – those bags of carrots and celery are resealable, which allows for portion control and re-use. Potato chip bags are typically not. Food for thought.

The 3rd and 4th parts are on tonight, with a reminder that this is “open signal,” no HBO subscription is required to watch. The shows are also available on YouTube, to keep them accessible to all Americans and their loved ones.

TEDx AlvaPark, Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, where “any idea is welcome”

The words in the title of the post come from Madhu Prasad, MD (@HenryFordIdeas), who was our gracious host along with the Innovation Institute at Henry Ford Health System for TEDx AlvaPark (“Alva” as in “Thomas Alva Edison”). He was referring to a truth that we all know, which is that Detroit, Michigan is at a crossroads – 20,000 homeless people and 40,000 abandoned buildings. In that situation, more, rather than less, ideas are welcomed. The Innovation Institute is positioned as the “tip of a spear” of growth in this environment. It is also one of the newest members of the Innovation Learning Network (@HealthcareILN) and will host the ILN’s in person meeting in May, 2012.

Before heading to the Institute, I did what I always do and requested to see things at the level of the patient. I was fortunate to meet Taimur Anwar, MD, and OB/Gyn, and his Chair, Adnan Munkarah, MD, who showed me the process of care and introduced me to the Henry Ford Medical Group at Henry Ford Women’s Health Services. In the usual course of introductions, I loved the question Taimur asked me (and I’m paraphrasing) – “What have you changed where you are?” – it’s a great test of leadership, don’t you think?

The beginning of our day started with a talk by the leadership of Henry Ford Health System, who were all present, including CEO Nancy Schlichting, who spoke about leadership and “hiring differently,” when she brought in an executive from Ritz-Carlton to lead Henry Ford’s new  West Bloomfield hospital. I learned about the focus on service in this new facility, a place without deep fryers and where people from the community come to the cafeteria to eat dinner. Check it out.

The photograph at the top is from one of the most compelling talks of the day by Veronika Scott ( @veronikascott ), a student from the Detroit College for Creative Strategies, who created a self-heated coat that turns into a sleeping bag, manufactured by “the homeless, at no cost to them.” (see: The Empowerment Plan). Another was by Tim Jahnigen developer of OneWorldFutbol ( @oneworldfutbol ) , a durable (for 30 years) inflatable ball that never goes flat, that lets children be children, and harnesses the “single greatest resource – the innocence of a child’s natural spirit.” These and the other excellent talks of the day had the theme of simple, significant innovations, and collaboration.

Some learning in between the TEDx’s, too

As is usual at events like this (or any event I go to), there’s a lot of learning that goes on between the formal presentations, and here were some important takeaways for me:

School of the Future: An instructor from Upland Hills School was present in the audience and he introduced me to a new educational model that is based on collaboration rather than competition. In my Generation X-ness, I was immediately intrigued. He referred me to the National Association of Independent Schools were I searched around and found the Guide to Becoming a School of the Future. It says that for the students of the future:

…knowledge is open, collaborative, accessible, often from the bottom up, and frequently presented in multimedia. For older generations, knowledge is individually controlled, owned, comes from the top down (experts), and generally is presented in text-based form.

If you look at page 11 of the guide, you’ll see qualities that we would all happily entertain in our health care professionals today, tomorrow, and forever. As usual I see lots of relevance to medicine and wonder if the initiative being taken by the independent school community might be replicated somewhere in our profession, or if it already is….

Medical Students and Medical Education

Madhu invited medical students from the Wayne State University School of Medicine, who are breaking ground on their own efforts to support healthy communities and diversity. This includes World AIDS Day Detroit (on December 1, of course), and Open Source Medicine, who are developing My Health Report, a well designed after visit summary being administered by medical students. I’m going to give OSM their own blog post tomorrow, so more on that then.

Iconic innovation, re-imagined in the 21st Century

The subheading is a little cliche-sounding, I know, but there is something iconic about the innovation that began here, and the spirit that exists today. We all know that logo, and the American ingenuity that came with it.

I believe that the Ford/Firestone/Edison generation of innovators exactly preceded the generation that Henry J. Kaiser and Sidney Garfield, MD were part of in the 1930’s and 1940’s in health care (Henry K was 20 years younger than Henry F). I am sure there was some cross pollination between them ( a quick look at the Wikipedia says there was ). The Institute is situated in the middle of the Henry Ford Hospital campus and brings a modern look to a solid heritage. The countertops in the salon are made of recycled taillights, even.

I loved meeting people in Detroit who love their city and want to make it better. Everyone should live where they feel that way, because the world is not flat, as I have discussed on this blog many times. That’s what #epicenter means – it’s a spirit tied to a location, not a specific place.

With gratitude to our host/magician-in-residence Dr. Prasad and the Innovation Institute for a good look at the future, in Detroit, I look forward to our return in May, 2012!

Photos below, click to enlarge

Photo Friday: Why fight traffic, fight discrimination instead, The Rosa Parks Bus @thehenryford

This week’s photograph was not taken in Washington, DC – I’m making an exception because it relates to diversity. I took it at The Henry Ford ( @TheHenryFord) in Dearborn, Michigan, from the perspective of its most famous passenger, Rosa Parks (and it’s in a relatively confined space so difficult to get a wide angle view).

I actually didn’t know the bus was there until I went to check in on Foursquare and it popped up as a location within the museum (2 snaps for social media). I immediately asked to go see it.

You can’t help noticing the sign on the bus (“Why Fight Traffic, Go by Bus”), which is playful and fun, part of a system of bias and violence directed toward those who broke its rules of segregation. The bus is surrounded with other artifacts of segregation, which are in the photos below.

Inside the bus, you can hear a recording of Rosa Parks being interviewed after the famous incident on December 1, 1955. What I heard was a tone of defiance mixed with the feeling that her heart was racing as she told the story. Rosa Parks was 42 years old in 1955.

I asked the “why” of a display like this in a place like The Henry Ford, and I really liked the answer. Since The Henry Ford is about American innovation, and the original innovation is the creation of America itself, it was felt natural that the story of the journey to achieve the ideals of this innovation should be told here.

When I sat in the seat that Rosa refused to vacate, I immediately flashed back (forward) to Regina Holliday’s piece, “The Death of the Paper Transfer,” where she portrays the inequity of our health care system, which could not accomplish what the transit system in Washington, DC did, when it achieved interoperability in bus-metro transfers in 2010. I decided to bring up an image of the piece and photograph it on the seat, just to think about how the the seat on this bus has taken flight and inspired people 56 (!) years later…

You can see the story behind the bus at The Henry Ford here.

He is a magician | Innovation Institute at Henry Ford

I AM A MAGICIAN | Innovation Institute at Henry Ford. – Welcoming to the blogosphere Madhu Prasad, MD (@HenryFordIdeas) who is a surgeon AND the Director, Innovation Institute at Henry Ford Hospital, which as he states, will change the world:

It is the medical community’s answer to Disneyland. A place where magic (technology) and wonder (ideas) permeates the hearts and minds of the “imagineers” of Medicine. A place where imagination spurs collaboration – breaking down and overcoming barriers – to change the practice of medicine and delivery of health care at Henry Ford and around the world, and to help restore our community to a position of pre-eminence.

Madhu and I have spent more than a few Innovation Learning Network (@HealthcareILN) in person events together, where he always expresses a healthy curiosity about the things around us :).

I’m going to get to find out about this magical place when I attend TEDxAlvaPark in November, shadowing visit to a medical office included (of course!). Will blog about the whole thing. In the meantime here’s a little video intro, and link to the blog is above. Enjoy.