Dreaming up health care

Dreaming up health care

Lake Nona forum participants discuss health care challenges

By Melissa Lutz Blouin
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Lake Nona forum participants discuss health care challenges

In the future, will you be able to Uber a doctor? Do the buildings we work and live in impact our health? What can we learn about health from outer space?

These are just a few of the thought-provoking questions posed at the Lake Nona Institute Impact Forum, which was co-hosted by the UF Research and Academic Center at Lake Nona. Speakers included wellness guru Deepak Chopra, CNN correspondent Sanjay Gupta, tennis great Billie Jean King, former U.S. House of Representatives member Patrick Kennedy, preventive medicine expert Dean Ornish and two former surgeon generals, among many other health care leaders and entrepreneurs.

The speakers gathered with their peers and other thought leaders in health care for three days of brainstorming at Lake Nona, a community outside of Orlando with a concentration of biomedical research facilities working together toward innovative solutions to today’s health care issues.

“The complexity and magnitude of action that will be necessary to deliver on the promise of improving and extending human life and stimulating economic prosperity through the power of innovation is significant,” wrote Thomas J. Graham, M.D., chief health, strategy and innovation officer for the Tavistock Group and global chairman for the Lake Nona Institute in a welcome letter to the participants.
“Such an odyssey is challenging, but the rewards in the form of well-being, prosperity and happiness are priceless.”

National Geographic Fellow and New York Times best-selling author Dan Buettner, who is also the founder and CEO of Blue Zones, spoke on the five places on Earth where people live the longest and are the healthiest and happiest. Called “Blue Zones,” these places are as diverse as Greece, Japan and the United States. The people who live in these communities reach the age of 100 at rates 10 times greater than the general population.

“We have the genes for an ancient time, but we live in an entirely different environment,” Buettner told the audience. He spoke of the “Power 9,” or the nine most important things people can do for health and longevity. These include moving a lot, having the right outlook on life, downshifting, having a purpose, eating a plant-based diet, minimizing meat, eating seafood a few times a week, drinking in moderation or not at all, and connecting with others.

As to the questions at the beginning, health care is becoming a more patient-centered enterprise, where people can Google information on nearby doctors and even summon a physician for a house call. Architects are developing “stay well” rooms with air purification, circadian lighting and other features that promote good health. And with astronaut Scott Kelly coming back to Earth after being in space for a year, we will soon learn how the human body reacts to long periods of time off the planet.

The lessons learned at Lake Nona show that everything is connected — and constantly changing, from issues such as the obesity epidemic to a person’s very own body.

“Your gut influences your emotions and vice versa,” Chopra said. “Your body is not a noun, but a verb. It’s a process, not a structure.”

The next step will be to take lessons learned and ideas generated, from the individual to the global level, and make a difference in health care throughout the world.