Wish I had a nickel for each of the emails I’ve received from people who have followed this blog of mine…. Where have I been? It’s a fair question. It’s been months since I’ve blogged here… because, well, I’ve been doing my Willie Nelson thang… on the road again….
See all those stars on the map? That’s where I’ve been.
But now I’m finally home to stay for a few weeks and can share with you some of the marvelous places I have visited, and more importantly, the wonderful, dedicated people I have met and learned from!
So many different audiences, so many interests in how patients access, perceive, are helped, and hurt. From seniors, to medical students, to patient advocates, to providers, to employers, to pharma marketers, to patient activists – 14 different presentations, each one different, and each an opportunity to learn – from those who hoped to learn from me.
Here are a few audience highlights:
Patients: I love patient audiences. They have already figured out that they need tools to get better healthcare, so they don’t come to hear me speak unless they are already invested in the information. They infuse themselves into the conversation – often agreeing with what I have to say, and sometimes disagreeing, too (which is how I learn from them what their hurdles are). I had several opportunities to speak to groups of patients, on a variety of topics ranging from defensive medicine, to how to stay safe in the hospital, to how healthcare reform will affect us all. I had the privilege of speaking to, and meeting new patient audiences in Syracuse and Liverpool, New York, Sarasota, Florida and San Diego (through a program with Consumer’s Union ).
Medical students: I had two opportunities to spend time with health professions students – one of my most important audiences. If we can get our messages out to these young people while they are in the midst of learning their new skills, we have a better chance of improving our patient experiences. From the 1 Health Program at the University of Minnesota , which includes not just future doctors, but future nurses, allied health professionals and veterinarians, to the Personalized Medicine 101 course at Upstate Medical – it was a real treat to swap thoughts and ideas with these eager-to-learn young adults. My thanks to Sue Kostka, RN and Dr. Judith Buchanan at the University of Minnesota, and Dr. Robert West at Upstate for believing in my ability to add to their students’ educations.
Employers: My first opportunity to share patient empowerment with employers took place in New York City in October. My point to them was that empowering their employees can improve employee health, confidence, and everyone’s bottom line. I will be frank that I was disappointed in how the message was received – or wasn’t. To me it is so obvious. But I don’t believe I did a good enough job making the case. Back to that employee drawing board which I realize requires more data – data that isn’t yet easily available, as near as I can tell.
Patient Activists: Do you like that term? My most recent adventure — some time in Orlando at the Institute of Healthcare Improvement’s Annual Forum. The IHI provided scholarships – all expenses paid — to 50 of us who are involved in patient safety initiatives. An incredible opportunity to meet some of the folks I have been in touch with for years, but have never met. One of my patient advocate colleagues, Ken Farbstein , suggested it was like going to your class reunion, only this time we were the cool kids. I’ve written more about this almost overwhelming experience . We patient activists cannot thank the IHI, in particular CEO Maureen Bisognano and Paul Levy , enough for their recognition of the importance of our work, or their generosity in providing the means to bring us together.
Patients’ Advocates: OK – I’ll admit it. Patient advocates are my favorite audience. I had two opportunities to meet new advocates and talk about this quickly emerging field. As the proprietor of AdvoConnection for patients and AdvoConnection for advocates , I have a lot to say! In an ongoing relationship with Michelle Gilmore of Heartwood Health , who holds numerous workshops during the year in Oakland, California plus the NAHAC Conference in Washington, DC where more than 100 advocates convened, it was an incredibly exhilarating experience to be in the presence of these patient advocates and navigators who are dedicated to improving healthcare for individuals, one-on-one.
As you can see, I’ve enjoyed an incredible few months. As you will experience in the future – I have learned so much more than I imparted during those talks and presentations!
I can’t wait to share what I’ve learned with you over the next weeks and months, in hopes of improving your healthcare experiences, too.