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We Are All Patients

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.]

*This blog post was originally published at Six Until Me.*


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2 Responses to “We Are All Patients”

  1. JTR says:

    Wasn’t this blog someplace else recently?Honestly a conference put on by the head of the pharma detailing (sales reps) Kevin Kru is hardly an patient conference.

    Docs know when they are being profiled and most refuse to take gifts or attend pharma sponsored events but patients are still a little naive it seems. If you weren’t a source of $ for them they wouldn’t be co-opting the epatient moniker. Did you know they do psychological background assessments to figure out what motivates you to work for them for free?

    Did they pay you to attend? Cover your costs in any way? Did you disclose that? It taints your report.

  2. Kerri. says:

    Hi Jason. This post was cross-posted on my SixUntilMe.com diabetes blog and on the Better Health blog. I disclosed, during my presentation, that I have a business relationship with Animas Corporation and Dexcom, and that Animas covered my travel and lodging for the conference. I also disclosed this in my write-up:

    http://sixuntilme.com/blog2/2011/10/epatient_connections_a_patient.html

    Most doctors make their living being doctors. Most patients do not make their living being patients. I happen to make my living writing editorial from a patient perspective, but in the case of this conference, I simply wanted people to remember that patients count, too.

    Any questions, please feel free to contact me. And thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. I really do appreciate your perspective, and it has me thinking.

    - Kerri.

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