An answer to our ills: human touch

I just watched a deeply moving TED talk on A doctor’s touch. (When instead… I should be planning an upcoming Hub Ottawa event that we’re hosting for TEDxOttawa)

My friend who passed the video on is a doctor. I’m sure she was captivated by Mr. Verghese’s approach to medicine as she’s passionate about healing and listening to patients (something often missing in the hectic and busy world of doctors).

Although I understand his talk from a patient’s point of view, I was taken by his more holistic message, which in the medical sense or not, speaks volumes for how we live our lives and how we deal with others:

  • To understand you must listen
  • To heal you must touch
  • To change a behaviour, you must connect
This video is about the human physical touch – but I’d argue that he likely ‘touched’ a great deal of people simply by the message and the methods used in his presentation.
What touched me perhaps the most was his use of history and the arts to get his message across about the health sciences.  His multi-disciplinary understanding of the world was enriching.  He explained his reasoning and his inspiration for putting his energy into the routine physical exam by sharing stories about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and historical physicians and sharing those stories through pieces of art over the years. If he had simply used charts and graphs to show why he chose to focus on the human touch, the presentation would have (obviously) lost its meaning.
I truly believe that the more we cross-sectors and see the world from different perspectives, the more we’ll know about how to ‘diagnose’ the world’s many ‘ills’. 
This was procrastination at its finest. Thanks Les for sharing:)
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