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Home » What Makes Us Get Sick? Look Upstream: Rishi Manchanda (Transcript)

What Makes Us Get Sick? Look Upstream: Rishi Manchanda (Transcript)

Here is the full transcript of HealthBegins’ founder Rishi Manchanda’s talk titled “What Makes Us Get Sick? Look Upstream” at TED 2014 conference.

Listen to the audio version here:


A Different Approach to Healthcare

For over a decade as a doctor, I’ve cared for homeless veterans, for working-class families. I’ve cared for people who live and work in conditions that can be hard, if not harsh, and that work has led me to believe that we need a fundamentally different way of looking at healthcare.

We simply need a healthcare system that moves beyond just looking at the symptoms that bring people into clinics, but instead actually is able to look and improve health where it begins. And where health begins is not in the four walls of a doctor’s office, but where we live and where we work, where we eat, sleep, learn and play, where we spend the majority of our lives.

So what does this different approach to healthcare look like, an approach that can improve health where it begins? To illustrate this, I’ll tell you about Veronica. Veronica was the 17th patient out of my 26-patient day at that clinic in South Central Los Angeles. She came into our clinic with a chronic headache.

This headache had been going on for a number of years, and this particular episode was very, very troubling. In fact, three weeks before she came to visit us for the first time, she went to an emergency room in Los Angeles. The emergency room doctors said, “We’ve run some tests, Veronica. The results are normal, so here’s some pain medication, and follow up with a primary care doctor, but if the pain persists or if it worsens, then come on back.”

Veronica followed those standard instructions and she went back. She went back not just once, but twice more. In the three weeks before Veronica met us, she went to the emergency room three times. She went back and forth, in and out of hospitals and clinics, just like she had done in years past, trying to seek relief but still coming up short.

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