The final word of TEDMED

The future of medicine relies on students' understanding of health systems, says Dean Miller

Amy Hewko - 23 April 2013

D. Douglas Miller, dean of the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry, closed the three-day TEDMED Live event at the FoMD by urging students and practising health professionals to improve their understanding of health-care systems. TEDMED Live was hosted by the Faculty as part of its centennial celebrations and included presentations from several faculty members.

The dean began by referencing Donald Berwick, who established the triple aim of health-care systems: access, quality and sustainability of care.

"In the modern era, this is potential mythology because it may not be attainable," Dr. Miller said in reference to the triple aim. "But it's the goal of nearly every health-care system in the modern, developed world."

Education may be the key to the previously unattainable. According to a study in the New England Journal of Medicine, 90 per cent of students in Canada and the United States were satisfied with their clinical education while less than 50 percent were satisfied with their education related to health policy and public health.

In the dean's view, students' interest in health systems and policy couldn't be more positive: "I firmly believe that the next generation of physicians, by knowing more about health policy, will help us to sustain our health-care system."

He also announced the future implementation of Health Policy for Health Professionals, a joint curriculum initiative from the University of Pennsylvania, Georgia Health Sciences University and the Association of American Medical Colleges. "We will teach this curriculum as professional education content to all kinds of health-care students across this campus. We'll make this content available around the world so that people can come to understand that this is important. It's part of the curriculum that's overlooked, undertaught and a sore spot among students."

Dean Miller closed his speech by encouraging the audience to independently read scholarly journals that discuss health systems and policy. He also encouraged students interested in health policy to contact him and build a group focused on advancing the triple aim. "I want us to talk. I want us to have a conversation."

TEDMED Live is an annual event broadcast live from Washington, D.C. During the three-day event, more than 50 leaders in various health-care professions presented short talks and performances that explored technology, education and design as it pertains to medicine. This was the first time the HD simulcast was broadcast at the University of Alberta.

Six top U of A faculty members supplemented the live feed, including presentations from Shelley Ross and Mike Donoff, Jonathan White, Sarah Forgie and Lynora Saxinger. Topics ranged from surgery basics to health advocacy training programs to guided meditation. These presentations will be available on the centennial website at