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ePatient Connections: A Patient Checks In.

We are all patients, damnit.Two weeks ago, I attended my third year at Kru Research's ePatient Connections conference, and every year, I'm amazed at how many different industry people show up and showcase their impressive efforts ... but how few patients.  But this year, there were a lot of patients.  Lots as in "more than five." 

For a conference with "ePatient" in the title, it was good to finally see more than just a handful of ePatients in the audience.  (And this is thanks, largely in part, to the ePatient Bill of Rights project that took place on September 19th, across the hall from the SXSH event).  And it wasn't just a handful of diabetes patients - there were many health conditions well-represented at these events.  For me, it was nice to talk about the universal issues that people with chronic illnesses face, instead of drifting around in the bubble of diabetes.  I like stepping outside of our comfortable space and learning about what others are living with.  I need that exposure to other types of patients ... keeps me thinking globally. 

Part of the panel discussion I was co-leading, with my friend Jenni Prokopy of ChronicBabe, was about Partnering with Patient Opinion Leaders.  We ran our session on both days of the conference, with different panelists and health perspectives on each day.  (Including Ann Bartlett, Mark S. King, and Eileen Bailey, just to name a few.)  But the main point was to have conference attendees hear from patient advocates, and to be able to ask the questions they really wanted answers to.

The discussions ranged from "How can we get our brand into the social media space without offending people?" and "How do we join this conversation despite all the regulatory?" But the main point that kept being revisited, by fellow conference speakers and attendees alike, was that we are all patients.  That phrase was as ubiquitous as the term "epatient," only it meant more. 

Because we're all patients.  If you are enjoying good health, you are still on the mission to maintain your good health.  If you're dealing with a health condition, you're on a mission to regain your health, or to adjust to your new perception of health.  The definition of "health" varied from person to person, but the point remains:  we are all patients.

I think there's an important point to be made at these industry conferences.  We can talk about the latest cancer app for iPad.  We can talk about amazing technological advances that allow children to attend school from their sickbed (Hello, vGo the Carpathian).  But at the heart of this progress is the patient.  These things are developed to improve the health of patients, and to offer a higher quality of life to those who are dealing with health conditions.  Make the lives of patients better.  And the patient is all of us.  

[Disclosure:  I was invited to help organize the SXSH event and speak at the ePatient Connections conference independently, but my travel, lodging, and expenses were provided by Animas.  And I appreciate that. Full Animas disclosure for SUM is found here.] 

Comments

I just wanted to take a min. to thank you for this entry. It is weird being in nursing school and feeling limited by what we can do to take care of the whole person, but after seeing this and that really cool gadget that teaches the child in their own home really excites me to the possibilities out there to ensure that others who are not as fortunate as us diabetics can still do a lot of the things (like "go" to school while healing.) I am now quite interested in seeing more about how tech. can improve the lives of those with illnesses, but not just the health part but more along the lines of their everyday lives! Thanks Kerri!!

I really like this. Patients aren't just the people with chronic conditions, but healthy people who sometimes have acute issues. And healthy people who are the spouses/family members of those of us living with chronic conditions. My spouse is as much a patient as I am sometimes! I am also glad that this had a far more collective voice of those living with chronic/serious health conditions. Too often, we all retreat into our corners and we need to remember that there is strength in numbers. Someone living with type 1 diabetes has a lot in common with someone who is living with a condition like MS or cancer. We need to remember that!

High five for the Ghostbusters 2 reference.

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