Colloquia Series

Medical Care on the Edge: Redesigning Care Across Cultures

Watch Recording

October 24

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

7–8:30 PM

Presented by Dr. Thomas Ask, Dr. John Boll, & Dr. Alex Nesbitt.

Palliative care is focused on providing relief from the symptoms and stress of a serious illness. The goal is to improve quality of life for both the patient and the family. This presentation on pain and palliative care will consider approaches suitable for developing countries and impoverished communities. It will discuss the use and limits of technology in the medical care of individuals with advanced serious disease, including the ways that technology can help or hinder person-centered care. It will also include discussion of the appropriate incorporation of artificial intelligence and ethnographic design.

Presenter Biographies

Thomas Ask, DProf, PE, is a professor of industrial design at Pennsylvania College of Technology. Previous positions include vice president of engineering at Odin Systems International, principal of Ask and Associates, senior engineer at Ingersoll Rand, and visiting professor of Mechanical Engineering at the Technical University of Malaysia. He has a BS in mechanical engineering from University of Illinois, an MA in Liberal Studies from Excelsior College, and a doctorate in Industrial Design from Middlesex University. He is a licensed professional engineer and designer of dozens of commercialized products and systems.

John Boll, DO, FAAFP is an associate director at the Williamsport Family Medicine Residency. His area of teaching focus is in quality improvement; chronic, non-malignant pain management; and care for patients in underserved communities. Part of his present role is to address health and healthcare disparities in the Amish and Plain communities. Prior to his work in the Family Medicine Residency, he worked for 10 years in a community health center in a small, rural town in eastern Tennessee. He received a biology degree from Messiah College and attended the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine for medical school.

Alexander Nesbitt, MD, is the medical director for Susquehanna Hospice, Supportive and Palliative Care, and Gatehouse Inpatient Hospice Unit. He was a former president of the medical staff and is currently chairman of the ethics committee and of the medical staff peer review committee.He has a BA in history from Princeton University and an MD from George Washington University School of Medicine. He is board certified in family medicine, geriatrics, and hospice and palliative medicine. He has been employed at Susquehanna Health since 1988 and, after 22 years in primary care, has worked full time in hospice and palliative care since 2006.

Thomas Ask

John Boll

Alexander Nesbitt

Bibliography/Reading List

  • Ask, Thomas, John Boll, and Alexander Nesbitt. “Steps towards Integrative Palliative Care in the Developing World.” Design for All Institute of India, Newsletter Vol. 12, No. 3, March 2017.
  • Illich, Ivan. Medical Nemesis: The Expropriation of Health. London: Calder & Boyars, 1975.
  • Lapierre, Dominique, and Kathryn Spink. The City of Joy. Garden City, N.Y: Doubleday, 1985.
  • Global State of Pain Treatment, Access to Palliative Care as a Human Right. Human Rights Watch. May 2011,
  • Global Atlas of Palliative Care at the End of Life. Worldwide Palliative Care Alliance, World Health Organization. Jan 2014
  • Mullainathan, Sendhil, and Eldar Shafir. Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means so Much. , 2013.