Transform: Connecting at the Forum


Written By Contributing Guest Writer: Jessica Solberg

When I walked into the 2013 Transform symposium at the Mayo Clinic Civic Center, I was not sure what to expect. As part of the media team, I was assigned to write about my experience at “Connecting at the Forum”, an area designated to see innovative work from different Transform community members. I become more knowledgeable on areas the community feels healthcare is lacking and discussed how we can improve these areas to better serve the patients. Circulating the room, with doctors, nurses, journalists, and other students I was able to see many interesting symposium projects that the members had put together, as well as hear their opinions, concerns, and positive feedback on what was being presented. Two projects stuck out to me and both were improvements made by technology.

The first was presented by a medical student who attended the University of Pennsylvania and asked “How will technology and wearable computing change medical expert network?” She along with many others had the idea to bring Google glass into the medical field. The device would be worn by medical examiners in order to allow other examiners/physicians to see what they are seeing on the patient. This device would be beneficial. For example, if paramedics would be able to wear this device, the physician can begin preparing the case and working on the diagnosis before the patient even arrives at the hospital. Additionally, patients can be connected from rural hospitals to hub hospitals in larger cities and allow there to be less travel time. With the benefits from this device, there were also a lot of questions amongst the group as to whether or not patients’ privacy can be violated by the person connected at the other end of the device. Is it just physicians and other medical staff seeing the patient?; will there be a consent that will have to be signed?

The second symposium was “How can we get specialist to trust the decisions of primary care providers?” The medical students’ goal was to develop a clinical decision support application that is easily accessible to all primary care doctors. The goal of this project is to decrease the amount of patients being sent to specialists when primary care doctor could send medical images and information to the specialists. The specialists will then determine if the primary care doctor will be able to treat the patient without further support from the specialists. This process will save time and money for the patient. This, again, has many benefits for the patients. But people asked “how are we going to keep from violating the patient’s privacy?” The main concern was how to keep people from outside of the medical community from not getting into this program. When working within the medical community there will always be room for improvement. The Forum was a great place for these individuals to show their work and hear from the community as to how they can improve their ideas.

Mingling around the large room with physicians, nurses, journalists, and students was one of the most inspirational experiences for a student like me. As a student uninterested in medical school it was inspiring to observe how other professionals make a difference in the health care world. The conference encouraged and motivated me in such a powerful way. This experience makes me feel just as important and part of the community towards improving health care. I spoke with a journalist from San Francisco, a physician from Milwaukee, and a nurse who has been working for Mayo Clinic for almost 20 years.


Jessica Solberg

Jessica Solberg is a contributing writer and a student at the University of Minnesota Rochester.