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Health Care Design Conference - 2013 Boston


About Me

David S. Sobel, M.D., M.P.H. is Medical Director of Patient Education and Health Promotion for The Permanente Medical Group, Inc. and Kaiser Permanente Northern California which serves over 3 million members. He practices adult primary care medicine at the Kaiser Permanente Medical Offices in San Jose.

Dr. Sobel completed a Bachelor’s degree in psychology at the University of Michigan. He then received his medical training at the University of California San Francisco with a medical internship at Presbyterian Hospital-Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco. He also completed a Masters degree in Public Health and a residency program in General Preventive Medicine at the School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley.

His research and teaching interests include medical self-care, patient education, preventive medicine, behavioral medicine and psychosocial factors in health. He is coauthor of seven books including: Living a Healthy Life with Chronic Conditions, The Healing Brain, Healthy Pleasures, Mind&Body Health Handbook (also published under the title The Healthy Mind, Healthy Body Handbook), and What’s the Catch? How to Avoid Getting Hooked and Manipulated.

Dr. Sobel’s more than 200 television appearances to educate the public about health issues include the Today Show, CNN, Hour Magazine, and a regular television news segment on KNTV, the ABC affiliate station in San Jose. His health education work in television and video has earned him awards from the American Heart Association and the American Film Festival. He also served as an invited delegate to the World Health Organization (W.H.O.) Congress that generated the Ottawa Charter on Health Promotion. He is the 2001 recipient of the national Healthtrac Foundation Health Education Award given to a health educator who has made a substantial contribution to advancing the field of health education or health promotion through research, program development, or program delivery. He is project director for two programs that won the Kaiser Permanente James A Vohs Award for Quality: Chronic Disease Self-Management Program Multi-Region winner in 2002 and The Self-Care/Healthwise Handbook Program runner-up in 1997. He is also a recipient of The Permanente Medical Group, Inc. Exceptional Contribution Award for 2005 for creating, developing and disseminating health education programs that support KP members throughout the continuum of care. He has also been named the 2010 Honorary Fellow of the Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE), the highest award bestowed on a non-member who has made significant and lasting contributions to health and health education.

Q&A with David

HxD asked speakers to tell us what inspires and drives them in healthcare and design.

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  • Q1: What is your burning mission in health?

    Empower the true primary care provider (the patient) as a partner in health care.

  • Q3: Why it inspires you?

    Summarizes 25 years of research and thought on the Science of Happiness

  • Q4: What is your patient story?

    I had been seeing a patient with diabetes for many years. I really enjoyed him but his HgA1C was above 10 and I tried everything. Nothing I said seemed to work to help him get it down. One day I asked him, “What do you really enjoy?” After a brief pause, he replied “I love to go trout fishing.” In that brief 30 second exchange many things changed: 1) I did a brief screening for depression (if he can’t identify anything pleasurable then it is a signal that I should more thoroughly screen him for depression) 2) I no longer saw him as an overweight, diabetic, hypertensive, but rather the image I now held was of him in a river trout fishing, 3) our treatment from then on was aligned with his internal motivation and our shared goal was to keep him healthy enough to continue to enjoy fishing, 4) he sensed that I cared about him as a whole person, not just a collection of problems, diagnoses, and symptoms, 5) I got for a brief few seconds to leave my world of patient problems, symptoms, and suffering and enter a pleasurable world of trout fishing. I am now experimenting informally with asking selected patients what they really enjoy. This is bringing some of my previous focus on “Healthy Pleasures” into the exam room for the benefit of both the patient and myself! Physicians and other care providers often complain that people are NOT motivated but don’t look for what they ARE motivated about and for. What really drives and animates a patient’s life? We need to try to align the needed behavior change with peoples’ passions and aims.

  • Q5: Why HxD?

    Interventions to improve health are only as good as the strategic thought and science that informs the design. HxD offers opportunities to forget titles, degrees and disciplines and focus on the common ground of effective behavior design

  • Q6: Why should someone come to your session?

    1. You are tired of old, ineffective, moralistic prescriptions for health improvement and lifestyle change
    2. You feel that there is more to life than following healthy behaviors
    3. You want to learn strategies for rapid change
    4. You want to use the power of millions of years of evolution to fuel your behavior design
    5. You want to laugh (I have been told I am funny, but I will still keep my day job)
    6. You don't want me to be alone at the session because you're compassionate and eager to co-create healthy, effective design

David at the Conference

CONFERENCE | Monday, March 25

Health Behavior Change and Beyond: The Health Benefits of Success Experiences

While sustained behavior and lifestyle changes can lead to improved health outcomes, there may be another pathway to health. Namely, the increased sense of confidence and control that comes from being successful at changing ANY behavior, even if the change is not sustained, can also improve health outcomes. Learn how to avoid the tyranny of prescribed failure experiences. Learn how to prescribe success by aligning with passions, discovering patient-generated solutions, and celebrating success.

WORKSHOP | Tuesday, March 26

Healthy Pleasures: Everything that Feels Good is Not Bad for You

Many people think that to promote health they have to undertake strict weight loss diets, adopt punishing exercise programs, avoid salt, shun cholesterol, and follow all sorts of arduous, pleasure-denying regimens. Fortunately, scientific evidence now suggests that for most people doing what is pleasurable, from sensual delights to selfless pleasures, from optimism to laughter, actually pays off twice: immediate enjoyment and better health. So taking a siesta, playing with a pet, talking to a friend, looking at nature, smelling a sweet scent, savoring chocolate, laughing at a funny movie, going shopping, soaking up the heat of a sauna, taking a vacation, passionately pursuing a hobby, sipping a glass of wine, listening to your favorite music, helping someone in need, thinking optimistically, practicing gratitude, and scores of other healthy pleasures may measurably improve your health. In designing behavioral interventions they can be fun. We can align with intrinsic motivation and leverage millions of years of evolution which has programmed us to seek pleasurable experiences.

"Last year's HxD conference was so amazingly inspiring, and has definitely caused me to strive harder and become more passionate about improving our healthcare system." - 2012 HxD Attendee

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Watch the 2012 HXD Conference Recap