Spotlight Health, now celebrating its fifth year as the opening segment of the annual Aspen Ideas Festival, begins June 21, 2018. The three-day tradition continues with an exceptional mix of inspiring, provocative, and startling experts who bring a wide lens to the topic of domestic and global health and medicine. Here, people from disparate disciplines find common ground, take us to the frontier of future science, help us understand how culture influences well-being, and develop long-lasting personal and professional connections. Surrounded by the towering peaks of Aspen, Colorado, the event is rich in learnings and conversation, with plenty of opportunities for casual interaction, outdoor adventure, films and other cultural offerings.
The Cutting Edge of Medicine and Science
Legend has it that molecular biologist Francis Crick ran into a pub in Cambridge, England, and announced, “I have discovered the secret of life.” Crick and his partner, James Watson, had just completed the double-helix model of DNA. Fast forward 65 years, when science and medicine are still building on that foundational discovery — to edit genes, alter the course of genetic disorders, correct embryonic defects, and perhaps code for beauty or athletic prowess in future generations. The astonishing potential to manipulate and care for the human body doesn’t end there. Synthetic blood offers hope to people with sickle cell anemia, bioprinting is leading to artificial organs, and robots may soon teach language to children with hearing deficits. The next generation of breakthrough drugs offers hope to people facing cancer and mental illness, and ultrasound could alter the course of Alzheimer’s disease. Where will these thrilling developments lead next, and how do we share their benefits?
Disrupting Health Systems
The accelerating pace of change in the health care system reverberates with promise, innovation, and venture capital. Much is rooted in technology — digital health records are being used in remote parts of the world; blockchains, with their novel approach to data sharing, shake up access to medical information; drugs get delivered by drones in Rwanda. Basic processes of care are being transformed too, with hospitals and community health systems caring for distant patients with remote-monitoring devices, entrepreneurs developing novel ways to purchase pharmaceuticals, and insurers considering how to pay for it all. New surveillance tools and social media speed the capacity to hotspot disease and pandemic outbreaks. Meanwhile, community health workers are assuming new responsibilities the world over, patients are becoming more engaged in decision making, and provider shortages are critical. The future of the Affordable Care Act — or any workable system — remains in doubt. What will all of this mean for our health?
In the least healthy county of Ohio, one primary care doctor serves every 15,000 residents, almost one-quarter of the population faces severe housing problems, and barely one-third graduates high school on time. The healthiest Ohio county, by contrast, has one primary care physician per 750 people, 7 percent of the population faces severe housing problems and 83 percent have attended college. Varying rates of opioid addiction are equally dramatic. Such disparities are echoed in every US state and across the globe, with local conditions producing vastly different life expectancies. Access to clinical care and health insurance explain some of the differential, but income inequality, economic opportunities, the built environment, pollution, violence, and community supports account for more. From Louisville, Kentucky, and Santa Monica, California, to Santiago, Chile, and Kigali, Rwanda, communities are tackling local health issues with innovative, cross-disciplinary revitalization strategies. What is a healthy community and how do we build them?
Our Planet, Our Health
Long after Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico, millions remain without electricity or clean drinking water. Meanwhile, the California wildfires have spewed toxins into the air, the floods of south Asia breed menacing disease, and malaria and food insecurity are on the rise in much of the developing world. With climate change driving natural disasters, displacement, and food system changes, pollution responsible for one in six deaths worldwide, and poisonous chemicals in everyday use, the work of environmentalists and health professionals is increasingly intertwined. Resilience — of individuals, communities, and systems — is key to survival. But if the environment is often hazardous to our health, it is also a source of healing. Plants have pharmaceutical properties, animals are core to many medical advances, rigorous science can promote innovative agricultural techniques, and the natural world can renew us at our core. How do we keep both people and the Earth healthy?
Continuing Medical Education for Physicians and Nurses
Spotlight Health has partnered with the Annenberg Center for Health Sciences at Eisenhower to offer Continuing Medical Education (CME) and Continuing Nursing Education (CNE) credits for members of the medical community. The Annenberg Center for Health Sciences at Eisenhower is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians and nurses. Click here for more information.
Spotlight Health Underwriters
For information about underwriting opportunities for Spotlight Health 2018, please contact Deb Cunningham by email or at (202) 701-7347.