From #DOCSF17: Dr. Miclau, moderator of the #DOCSF17 Health Policy sessions, shares his thoughts on how digital health impacts the world of trauma.


A transcription of the entire interview is below:

Breanna Cunningham: Hey, there, Bre Cunningham with CODE Technology, and as you know, we are all about business but we’re also here to party. I can’t think of a better way to kick off this party than with Dr. Ted Miclau. Cheers.

Dr. Ted Miclau: Cheers.

Cunningham: Great conference this has been. Dr. Miclau, his resume is a mile high and he is the chair at UCSF at Zuckerberg past president of the OTA. I’m so excited that you took the time to do this interview. One thing that’s unique about Dr. Miclau is he’s a traumatologist. We’ve talked to a lot of surgeons today that are elective providers. My first question for you is as a traumatologist what are some of the unique challenges that you face when it comes to implementing and being successful with digital health?

Miclau: As I thought about digital health and I sat through this conference, it’s really amazing how much it’s really growing organically. The one thing, that as a trauma surgeon, you still need doctors on the spot doing procedures. Where I see digital health going is being an augmentation to some of that for the surgeon, perhaps either providing some mechanism for them to decide if they need to come to the hospital, if the patient should be referred. These are … There’s really not going to be any replacement in my career lifetime for actually having hands on for some of these treatments that are needed for our patients.

Cunningham: Sure. Now also, you’re a teacher. Right? You have residents and fellows that are underneath you that … Today, we heard a lot about being involved in policy and also taking a forefront of being an innovator. How do you instill that type of mentality in the people that you’re teaching?

Miclau: Fortunately, we bring a lot of people in that have that mentality, already. We are able to attract them and recruit them. We heard from one of the talks today how important people are. I am a true believe that your organization is only as good as the people who are brought in. I work in a county hospital. I think we all heard about some limitations that exist within certain public health facilities so our particular hospital doesn’t even have a fully integrated EMR, yet, even though it’s called the Zuckerberg San Francisco General. We still have to work on that. We will within the next several years.

What we’d like to do is empower people to be able to start looking at ways to improve healthcare at our facility using different ideas. Then perhaps as the technology improves and our own hospital system develops more of these things we’d be able to integrate some of these ideas into improvements for our patients.

Cunningham: Speaking of that, your residency program has a heavy involvement in developing countries. I believe they go twice during their program a third world country and they provide orthopedic services there. Does digital health play a role? If so, what? If not, what can we do to advance that?

Miclau: That really is a very enlightening question. I think digital health does play into a lot of this information. One of the things that we try to do is bring people from other countries to our facility and we try to visit them in exchanges. In doing so, we’re able to set up collaborations, a trusting relationship with them so that we would be able to use something like telemedicine or digital health ideas and technologies to be able to have real-time discussions with them either about patient care or research or even education.

Ultimately, once we teach the teachers and we have this collaboration that’s ongoing with them, this is a wonderful way to communicate. In one of the talks we also mention the importance of these modalities in really being communication devices. I think in that sense, this has a lot of opportunity for us.

Cunningham:Definitely. I think that’s a very unique aspect of your program. Then being here in the Bay area, I bet there’s a lot of opportunity. I’m excited to see what goes with that, what comes with that, if you will.

Miclau: Makes two of us.

Cunningham: I have a final question for you. What was your favorite thing about being the OTA president?

Miclau: My favorite thing about being OTA president was the end of my OTA presidential speech.

Cunningham: You mean your TED talk? It was. That’s fantastic.

Miclau: My TED talk. It was fun to get through that. That’s one of the more difficult things to do. This particular conference actually was conducted in a way where you have stand up sort of not behind the podium and speak to people from the heart, and show a lot of examples. Coming up when you have an opportunity to engage your peers, your professional peers, in a way that you’ll never to do again, it is an amazing chance and opportunity to produce something that you’ll look back fondly in the past. It’s so anxiety provoking that prior to preparing for that I’d talk to other presidents who were people who’d given thousands and thousands of talks and they said this is the hardest thing that they had to do.

Cunningham: Really? Would you agree? Would you mimic that? Would you say that was …

Miclau: Oh, yeah. It definitely was. One of those things was … One of the examples was somebody was, just before they got on the podium, had to kneel down and hide because he was about to throw up, he was so nervous. That’s good.

The other thing that I would say that’s been my favorite thing about the OTA, and it gets back into this digital health thing, is we’re trying to develop as an organization, a portal for communication and for education. We’re doing it through a company because the OTA doesn’t have deep pockets or expertise. We’re partnering with one of the publishing organization to create this very comprehensive portal where people could log on from wherever and have it be valuable to them.

Cunningham: People as in providers?

Miclau: Providers from anywhere around, providers or trainees, or people just wanting to learn about it, industry partners. One of the things that I’ve been allowed to do within the OTA is try to establish international networks. We’ve created these different organizations of trauma societies that will allow for each of these different organizations to up their game, become engaged with the OTA and then also through membership would be able to engage their members to be able to get through this portal. This transcends whether or not you have an organization that has particularly deep pockets. The Germans could do it as well as somebody from South America, the Columbians. That’s been really ultimately, when I get to the more global things that are a little more important to me, that’s been extremely satisfying that I’ll remember forever.

Cunningham: That’s so exciting. As someone that was there to experience that final TED talk, it was fantastic. All those, all the nerves that you had, at least it was productive anxiety because it was a great talk. Very inspiring. Dr. Miclau, as always, it is a pleasure to talk with you and you’re doing amazing work in the trauma community and teaching and raising up young traumatologists, and for that we’re grateful.

Miclau: I’m grateful for the discussion, so thank you.

Cunningham: Thank you very much. We are signing off officially. Let’s give a big cheer to a fantastic …

Dr. Bini, amazing job collaborating. You’re the ethic connector, getting everyone together. We’re proud of you. We’ll see you next year.

Miclau: Jimmy Kimmel, watch out.

Cunningham: Yeah.


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About the Author

Ellen Laux

Ellen Laux

Ellen is a design and marketing veteran and lives on the marketing team at CODE. She's focusing on helping surgeons and hospitals understand and LOVE PROs.

ellen@codetechnology.com