The final day of the conference kicked off with a humorous and enlightening presentation by the Deputy Surgeon General of the United States, Rear Admiral Boris Lushniak, M.D., M.P.H. Last year while serving as Surgeon General, RADM Lushniak issued the Call to Action to Prevent Skin Cancer. In its 143-year history, the office of the surgeon general had never addressed the prevalence of skin cancer. He added that treatment costs could be cut by $27 million if people received more timely screenings.
Participants then had the opportunity to break into small groups and discuss different health concerns in a more intimate setting. These conversations covered topics like policies to increase access to care, the impact of big data on the future of health care and how new technology can advance health care. The diversity of voices in the rooms contributed to meaningful and tangible steps that people can take back to their communities.
One conversation focused on reducing disparities in the era of health care reform. Conference attendees from different states and programs shared the positive impacts of the Affordable Care Act on their target populations as well as the barriers they still face in improving screenings and health care for all. The biggest problem for most health centers is to educate the newly insured individuals on how they can access providers and what they need to get screened for. Several ideas on how to reach low-income individuals with minimal access to health information and technology included training volunteers and cancer survivors to become health advocates within these various communities.
The conference closed with a hilarious and heartfelt keynote address by Dr. Dan Shapiro of Pennsylvania State University. He was diagnosed with cancer in 1987 and shared anecdotes from his battle with cancer and its impacts on his family. The conference definitely closed on a high with this laugh-out-loud presentation.
RADM Lushniak said it best, “The beauty of this meeting is the diversity in this room.” The range of attendees this year- from physicians to engineers to healthcare volunteers- made for a lively and educational experience. We hope everyone takes back to their communities new information and ideas to help their programs grow.
We want to thank our sponsors — Games Done Quick, Lilly, Genentech, Abbvie, Given Imaging, Genomic Health, Exact Sciences and Quest Diagnostics for their gracious support.
Be sure to mark down April 6-8 on next year’s calendar- you don’t want to miss Dialogue for Action ™ 2016!