Restoring humanitarian ideals of health care is focus of Lown Conference

March 16th, 2017

Hundreds to convene in Boston, May 5-7, pursuing a system based on human connections and sound science

March 16, 2017 (Boston, MA)—Clinicians, researchers, patient advocates, trainees and policymakers will address the ineffective, wasteful and unsafe practices within the U.S. health system at the 5th Annual Lown Institute Conference, Beyond the Bottom Line: Defending the Human Connection in Health Care. The conference takes place May 5-7 at the Boston Marriott Quincy.

American health care today has forgotten its humanitarian ideals and prioritizes profits over patients. As much as a third of what is spent on health care is wasted on unnecessary treatments and tests; at the same time, many who need care cannot access it. Corruption in the system is another concern, which involves institutions, regulatory bodies, clinicians and scientific evidence.

The conference will chart a new path to a system based on human connections and sound science. Keynotes, lively panel discussions, progressive research, and skills-building workshops will be featured.

Conference speakers include:

Jeffrey Sachs, PhD, world-renowned economist; special advisor to the UN’s Millennium Development Goals project, former director of Columbia University Earth Institute, luminary on economic development, and the fight against poverty, hunger and disease
Patricia Gabow, MD, former CEO of Denver Health, credited with transforming the struggling public hospital system into a national model of care
Charles van der Horst, MD, a leader in the Moral Mondays movement in North Carolina, which protested the state’s refusal to expand Medicaid under the ACA
Sabine Kleinert, senior executive editor of The Lancet
Vikas Saini, MD and Shannon Brownlee, MSc, president and senior vice    president, respectively, of the Lown Institute; co-founders of the Right Care Alliance

Again this year, the conference begins with a Research Symposium, highlighting studies of the drivers of and remedies for medical overuse and underuse. Dozens of abstract slam presentations, several oral presentations, and posters will be presented.

The conference will feature a compelling story from a patient who was left in debilitating pain after his surgeon used a bone growth product in an unapproved way during his spine surgery. Later the patient learned that his surgeon had been taking money from the manufacturer. A panel of health care leaders and patients will discuss the structural drivers that led to this incident, such as corruption, problems with the regulation process and systems of producing and evaluating evidence. Another panel will feature The Lancet Right Care Series that assesses the scope, causes and consequences of overuse and underuse across the globe. The Series, coauthored by 27 international experts, was led by the Lown Institute and published in January.

“Our conferences are like no other medical meeting because our doors are open not only to clinicians but also to members of the public who experience harm when health care is overused and misused,” said Vikas Saini, MD, president of the Institute. “Greed, competing interests and poor information are universal drivers that lead to inferior health care. At this conference, we’ll address these forces and find ways to work toward a system that benefits all Americans.”

Several skills-building workshops are also planned, including Fostering Patient-centered and Cost-effective Care Through Integration; Solving Health Care Problems through Design Thinking; and Harnessing the Power of Community Engagement by Hosting a Community Café.

On the last day of the conference, the Right Care Alliance will convene, inaugurate its first steering committee and launch a process to identify strategic goals for its campaigns in the coming year.

The conference is generously supported by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the California Healthcare Foundation, and others. Special thanks to the platinum level sponsor, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, for its continuing support. (The views expressed at the conference do not necessarily reflect the views of funders.) Media partner for the conference is STAT news.

Registration closes on May 1. To learn more about the conference and to register, go here.

Note to reporters and editors: The Lown Institute offers complimentary registration to you to our annual meeting. To apply for press credentials, please contact An on-site media center will be available as a work room and a setting for conducting speaker interviews.

About the Lown Institute

The Lown Institute, a nonprofit think and do tank, exposes the pervasive failures and injustices in our health care system and incubates programs that will bring about an affordable system grounded in excellent care, sound science and human connection—and accountable to all Americans. The Institute was founded by renowned cardiologist and Nobel Peace Prize recipient, Bernard Lown, MD, and supports his vision for compassionate care. Visit and follow us on Twitter at @LownInstitute.