Death, Redesigned

BJ Miller says there is a critical problem with the U.S. health-care system: It was designed with diseases, not people, at its center.

Miller, a hospice and palliative medicine doctor and executive director at The Zen Hospice Project, has called for the U.S. health-care system to redesign how we care for, and alleviate the suffering of, the terminally ill.

In his college years, Miller had a life-changing experience that helped him acutely understand the pain of others. After a night of drinks with friends, he climbed on top of a shuttle train in a spontaneous act of horseplay. After coming into contact with 11,000 volts of electricity, he was severely burned and lost his legs and left forearm, and narrowly escaped death.

Having known the health-care industry from both sides – as a patient of a serious injury and now as a caregiver – he knows that “compassion is where healing happens.” He is also convinced that our end-of-life care needs updating. In a very moving and insightful TED Talks video, Miller says now is the time to create something new, something vital, to handle the record numbers of people living with chronic and terminal illness.

Sparking Conversation

TED is a not-for-profit organization devoted to spreading great ideas by way of short, powerful talks. It began in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged, and today covers topics from science to business to global issues.

Jump Trading Simulation and Education Center in Peoria will host a TEDMED Live Streaming event Nov. 19 and 20, during which globally renowned experts will discuss the latest in medicine and technology and local thought leaders will facilitate conversations on how we can make our world a healthier place. The event is free and open to the public.

Last Updated: February 1, 2023

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About Author: Robert Sawicki, MD

Doctor Robert Sawicki photoDr. Robert Sawicki is the Vice President of Clinical Services for OSF Home Care and Post-Acute Services. He has led efforts to develop and improve care for patients with chronic illnesses and has a special interest in end-of-life care and hospice.

Dr. Sawicki received his medical degree from Rush University in Chicago, Illinois, and completed his residency in family medicine in Rockford. He practiced family medicine in Bloomington, Illinois, for 20 years before moving into leadership roles with OSF Home Care Services.

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Categories: Innovation, Palliative Care & Hospice