In April, I presented at Unite to Cure, the Fourth International Vatican Conference focused on how science, technology and 21st century medicine will impact culture and society. Sponsored by the Cura Foundation, some of the world’s leading scientists, physicians, ethicists, faith leaders, government officials and philanthropists participated in powerful conversations about the latest scientific breakthroughs and the future of healthcare.

I introduced a new term at the conference, and one that I’ve been sharing with audiences at other speaking engagements – collabovation. It’s a made-up word, but one that resonates – as we look to address global health care issues, simply innovating is not enough. We must also collaborate with new and diverse partners to achieve maximum results. From discussions around accelerating public-private partnerships to fund research to leveraging technology to reach underserved populations, collaboration and innovation were common themes throughout the three-day event.

I was truly honored to speak at this historic international conference. I joined Stephen Shaya, M.D., Chief Medical Officer, J & B Medical on a panel called “Extending the Reach.” The panel focused on access to health care and health care information for groups that have previously had significant barriers to treatment and care. Technology has radically transformed medicine and one of the major benefits has been the ability to reach far more people and reduce disparities in health care. Especially in remote, resource-deficient areas, technology and virtual tools can fill a gap in care.

As I like to say, this topic was music to my hearing aids. Whether now as the CEO of Tivity Health, or as the founder and President of Health eVillages, my entire career has been focused on the fact that within our lifetimes, one billion people will go to their graves without ever having access to healthcare workers, medication, clean water or viable health facilities. My mission through Health eVillages is to expand access to the highest quality healthcare by using tools and resources readily available in the United States, and by leveraging the collaborative IQ of multiple partners. Similarly, Dr. Shaya has leveraged the resources of his company to launch the Pietas initiative, focused on using technology, including telemedicine, to deliver care in in areas where health care practitioners are scarce. Watch the video of our panel here.

Participants were invited to a private audience by Pope Francis, where he addressed the need to “Prevent, Repair, Cure and Prepare for the Future,” themes addressed throughout the conference by leading voices in technology, medicine, academia, business and healthcare. The Holy Father ended his remarks with a call to action for all of us, stating “I encourage you, then, to pursue with boldness and determination the ideals that have brought you together and that are already a part of your academic and cultural itinerary.” I, like many others, left the Vatican Conference inspired by the great work that is being done around the globe to improve health care resources, engage in groundbreaking research and expand access, and re-energized in my commitment to make the world for just and fair for all.

 

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