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Med Student Speaks at TEDx 

July 18, 2018

Sai B. Speaks about the Intersection of Health Care and Humanity


Written By Karen Carlson
Published in Aspects Magazine | Summer 2018 | Vol. 43-3


Amid all the advances technology has brought to medical innovation, medical student Sai Balasubramanian, JD, has issued a challenge: “Medical technology can reduce costs and increase access to care. But how do we protect and preserve the human relationships that are so vital to health care?”

That challenge to the intersection of health care and innovation was good enough to land him on the stage at TEDx Oak Lawn in Dallas, Texas. Sai was part of the inaugural set of speakers in his hometown, on the theme of “Tabula Rasa” or “Blank Slate.” 

“It was great to hear from other people and to share the stage with amazing individuals,” Sai said of the TEDx experience.  

Sai, a native of Dallas, is already a published author in academic journals and on the Huffington Post, writing on innovation, governance, medical-legal relations, and health care administration. An MD/JD student, Sai is entering his second year at SIU School of Medicine. 

Earlier this year on St. Patrick’s Day, about 150 attended TEDx at the Wyly Theater, a prominent modern theater in downtown Dallas’s theater district. 

YouTubeIn his 15-minute speech, Sai posed bioethical questions related to preserving the humanity of health care while embracing the advances technology has elicited. “Medical innovation can go so many different ways – it’s really a blank slate,” Sai says. “We are at a fulcrum point of where we take it, especially with so many opportunities and possibilities ahead of us in health care.” He cites therapeutic advances such as gene editing technology, health care automation and the growing prominence of big data. “While this blank slate gives us the opportunity to build without limitations and make an incredible impact, we also need to be careful about how far we take it. We have to equally prioritize instituting appropriate ethical frameworks, and continue to empower people to have conversations about the impacts of innovation.” 

“Health care is such a large part of the human experience,” he adds. “Thus, it is imperative that we maintain the human touch that defines that experience.”

He stresses, “The idea isn’t to fear innovation – but rather, engage in and proliferate deeper conversations about the benefits and detriments of technology, rather than blindly accepting it.”

Sai, already equipped with an international relations degree from Austin College, worked in strategy consulting for almost four years before pursuing his dream of an MD/JD degree. He plans to work on health care policy, consulting, and compliance, while continuing the conversations about the intersection of health care innovation and bioethical questions. “SIU will help me continue to work on scholarship in this area,” he says. “SIU School of Medicine’s MD/JD program has a rich history — it is one of the oldest programs in the country, and its MD/JD graduates have made significant contributions both nationally and globally. I look forward to continue discovering and working with the wonderful people and opportunities that define the SIU School of Medicine.” 

Watch Sai's presentaiion on YouTube

Photos by Jeff Parsa Photography