In this recently posted TEDMED talk, Rebecca Onie discusses the origins of Health Leads, the Boston nonprofit organization she cofounded that takes a comprehensive approach to preventing chronic or severe medical problems.
Onie says that while working as an intern for legal services in greater Boston, "I grew frustrated with feeling like we were intervening too far downstream in the lives of our clients, that by the time they came to us they were already in crisis."
During the talk, Onie describes her vision of a health care system as one in which teams of medical professionals, social workers and college-student advocates not only prescribe medications, but also connect patients with resources that can provide basic necessities such as food, heat in the winter and exercise programs to address lifestyle concerns standing in the way of effective care. Through her organization, she strives to deploy underutilized resources to improve health outcomes for people who seek medical treatment in clinics; one component of her strategy involves optimizing waiting rooms to provide health education.
"If airports can become shopping malls and McDonalds can become playgrounds, surely we can reinvent the clinic waiting room," she says.