A way to cut through the noise
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Rebecca Onie

Take time to frame the right question

By Bryn Freedman
TED Institute curator

Rebecca Onie isn't a doctor, but she is an expert on health care. In her TED Talk, she shares the story of a teenage boy in Baltimore who walked into an emergency room, gaunt and tired. While the doctors tried to figure out which expensive metabolic panels and blood tests to run, one of Onie's team members asked a more obvious question: "Do you think he might be hungry?" 

And that, of course, was the problem. The boy hadn't eaten regularly in weeks -- and he was "so relieved that somebody finally asked."

That story appalled me and changed my perception. It inspired me to look deeper at an issue and not just rely on the tools closest to hand or the questions I always ask. As Rebecca says: "It turns out that when you ask the right questions, the answers become remarkably clear."

In her work, Rebecca is helping Americans think about their health care systems, reframing tough questions by using a lens that can be applied anywhere there's a lot of heat and noise -- in situations as stress-filled as a Baltimore emergency room, as combative as a national debate or as tense as your next meeting. 

As she puts it: "This moment, as it turns out, is not about changing minds. It is about something more powerful. It is about changing the questions we ask and quieting the noise to hear each other's answers."

Watch "What Americans agree on when it comes to health"
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