Personal Notes on TEDxNijmegen 2013

Wow! What a day… Last year I was able to follow TEDxMaastricht through livestream. This year I was lucky enough to receive an invite. All I can say is that I feel priviliged to have been at TEDxNijmegen. It was truly inspiring and deeply touching. Last year the concept of “Patients Included” was announced, and boy, was this TEDxNijmegen true to that concept! And on top of all that I got to meet a lot of people, including some of the speakers.

Here are some of my personal highlights with my personal notes. Let me know what you think…

Listening, that’s what a lot of the talks at TEDxNijmegen were all about. It was about listening to the patient, and particularly why that is essential to care. Lowie van Gorp told us through his first hand experience that putting the patient first can only be achieved when you listen and pay attention to the (seemingly) small things by realizing that those things are meaningful to the patient. He pointed out to us that “the caregiver has the ability to give the patient the feeling that they are in control, simply by giving them a choice”. His story was extremely touching and incredibly inspiring at the same time.
But, how do you do that… listening? Well, if you must know, just listen to Wendy Sue Swanson who told us about the different ways in which she tries to listen to and engage with her patients. One-to-one care will never be replaced, but all the possibilities for one-to-many communication that modern technology provides us with are invaluable resources! Wendy Sue urges us to be where the patient is: online!
So, even if you listen, will you be sure to hear or understand? No way! Tom Heerschop told us through a very personal story that even if you try to listen, try to look, or try to dig into the details, you may miss the underlying message. In his case the underlying message was a large tumor in his brain. So large, in fact, that it is hard to imagine how it could have been missed. Well, there you have it, even if you try to listen you might just miss what’s important.
And even if you listen and hear, does that guarantee that you will act upon it? In order to do that you need guts and Jeroen Verwiel showed us some serious guts! He also told us why by introducing Joe, telling us about what happened to Joe, Joe’s family and to Jeroen himself in the process of caring for Joe. If that did not take enough guts yet, he told us about the decisions he had to make in caring for Joe and his family. And best of all? Jeroen is nog afraid, and rightfully so if you ask me…

There were also quite some talks about breaking patterns, about ways and examples to fundamentally change things, and what keeps us from doing that. One thing that keeps us from doing things is the “gravitational pull” of the current state. Familiar expressions like “we’ve already tried that, it didn’t work”, “the last guy who tried that got fired” or “that’s to complicated, it will never work” were used by Michiel Muller to explain what keeps us running in circles. He also shows us how wonderful it is to discover and how taking risks can get us to our “personal pot of gold”. Finally he introduces us to Jeroen. Well, I guess you’ll just have to see for yourself.
Jan Bommerez took us into the world of co-intelligence explaining the true meaning “win-win”. Through metafors like a termite mound, a brilliant structure built by brainless creatures, he shows us the power of co-intelligence. He explains how we live in an “ego-system”, and how we can create an “eco-system”. From there on he gets onto the topic of culture saying “you cannot see it, but it influences everything”. He explains how in an open culture there is flow. He explains how synergy in a team means embracing the differences and holding on to the tension long enough to make a quantum leap. He states that we need dialogue, and we only have dialogue when we speak about things that touch our heart. His conclusion: “Nobody is in a position where you can’t make a difference. We can all make a difference.”. Powerfull stuff!

Quite a few sessions were about innovations and medical breakthrough. Probably the most notable one was by the very young Jack Andraka telling us about why and how he discovered a way to detect cancer in a very early stage way faster, cheaper, and more accurately than the most advanced existing tests can. Having no medical background or experience at all he urges us to find different ways to innovate and improve healthcare. He states that we need to shift from evolution to revolution if we want to keep up, and rightfully so from a guy who really is only a kid putting such a discovery to his name! Shoot for the moon, that’s definitely what Jack intends to do!
Amy Robinson talked about using massive online collaboration to learn more about the body. We were introduced to NAO the robot. We saw how insights from Formula 1 racing can contribute to improvements in healthcare. There was an introduction to the power of curating social media for medical information.

And of course there was entertainment. My highlight? Andre Heuvelman!

It is too much to go into each one of the talks here, so I urge you to go to and see for yourself!

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