Dr. Greene on handshakes, tomatoes and Jefferson

By Brian Dolan
11:06 am
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A.D.A.M. MedzioDuring the opening plenary session at the Health 2.0 conference this afternoon, Dr. Alan Greene, Chief Medical Officer of A.D.A.M. wove historical trivia with mixed metaphors to explain Health 2.0:

The first two presidents of the U.S., Washington and Adams, never shook hands while president, instead they bowed, Greene said. U.S. citizens similarly bowed back. President Thomas Jefferson changed all that, Greene explained, as he shunned displays reminiscent of Old World royalty in favor of the great leveler, the common handshake. Health 2.0 flourishes in similar settings -- there can be no more bowing down to doctors, Greene implied. Crowd sourcing health information is the key.

"There's another kind of handshake," Greene explained later. "That's the data handshake." Greene argued that health data must be easily transferred from one platform to another. "That will make all of these things so [much] more usable," Greene said. "With that comes mobile -- the more we have things usable in a mobile way, the better."

"A lot of your life happens when you are out," Amy Tenderich from DiabetesMine.com added. So users of these sites need to record information on scraps of paper and then "go home at the end of the day and type all that information in," Tenderich lamented. Clearly, that's a huge barrier to entry for desktop-based services.

While audience members offered potential solutions, one of which included leveraging camera phones for barcode scanning, the key is to make that "data handshake" as simple as possible. 

Toward the end of the debate, Greene noted that Thomas Jefferson was also responsible for the introduction of the tomato into our diets. The average kid in the U.S. doesn't like to eat fresh tomatoes, Greene said. Studies show, however, that the more a child gets involved with the vegetable's preparation the more likely they will eat it.

"If parents would hand their kid the knife, responsibly, the kid is more likely to eat it," Greene said. "It's time in healthcare to stop telling people to eat tomatoes but to give them the knife instead. And if a child goes out and picks a tomato himself, he's even more likely to eat it," Greene said. "That's the Health 2.0 angle."

"The real game changer, though, is when a child happens to plant a tomato plant," Greene said. "That's what we really need: For people to become producers and not just consumers."

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