Wellness matters. That was one of the definitive conclusions reached after an eye-opening two days of discussion with 230 of the world’s leading health care thinkers, scientists, entrepreneurs, and investors. The second annual Brainstorm Health gathering in San Diego focused on the transformative technologies and ideas happening right now—and on the companies making them happen. At the heart of this changing mindset is a new focus on worker well-being, said business luminaries ranging from IBM Watson Health’s Deborah DiSanzo to Levi Strauss & Co.’s Chip Bergh. And over the course of our meeting two more ideas kept rushing to center stage: One, there’s a widespread sense of humility about what we still don’t know about human health. And two, the tools of the digital health revolution, if used appropriately, can accelerate the search for those answers as never before. See all of our coverage of the conference here.
Darrell Stuckey Jr., Los Angeles Chargers
The NFL safety is using Whoop’s Internet-connected wristband to gauge how quickly his body recovers after stress. “Recovery drops dramatically if you have a couple of drinks before bed,” he says.
Mark Bertolini, Aetna CEO
Doctors told Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini to give up hope after his son Eric was diagnosed at age 16 with a rare form of lymphoma. “The health system viewed him as a disease rather than my son,” said Bertolini in a candid talk with Time Inc.’s Alan Murray. That is just one of the many failings in a U.S. system that considers health the mere “absence of disease” rather than the presence of wellness, he said. Though Aetna has recently announced it will withdraw from all ACA insurance exchanges in 2018, Bertolini said he didn’t think Obamacare would be repealed. What we need to do instead, he told the gathering, “is admit that it needs to be fixed.” And then fix it.
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Joe Biden, Former Vice President
On a clear brisk night there was talk of cancer moonshots, of stratospheric drug prices, and of a political star’s wrenching personal decision not to run for President. Former Vice President Joe Biden told Fortune Brainstorm Health cochair David Agus and a rapt audience of biopharma execs, investors, and other health care stakeholders that it was high time to cooperate and collaborate in the war on cancer—and that he would continue his efforts here. Quoting a line from JFK’s moonshot speech, Biden made his own message clear: “We should be no longer ready to postpone.”
Jaime 'Taboo' Gomez, Black Eyed Peas
“We don’t listen to our bodies,” said Jaime “Taboo” Gomez, of the Black Eyed Peas. The musician ignored the pain he’d had in his abdomen and back for years, attributing it to a stage fall in 2006. A 2014 diagnosis of testicular cancer brought him to a personal reckoning—and a new crusade. He’s now leading a call for prevention, early diagnosis, and better medical care for a group long ignored by the U.S. health care system: Native Americans.
Raj Panjabi, CEO of Last Mile Health
Those were the words of physician Raj Panjabi, the CEO of Last Mile Health, who eloquently and forcefully laid out “the real consequences of not investing in health care for everyone, everywhere.” Panjabi and fellow panelist Dr. Nahid Bhadelia stood on the front lines of the 2014–16 Ebola epidemic, helping to contain its spread. Bhadelia, a leading infectious disease expert in Boston, said we need a change in culture when it comes to preventing outbreaks: We can’t keep “chasing one pathogen after another.”