Sunday, September 14, 2014

MedX - A Place for Conversations

A week ago I was still in the midst of experiencing Stanford MedX. MedX was a conference like no other conference I had ever attended as an ovarian cancer survivor and research advocate. In the words of Larry Chu, MD executive director of MedX , “MedX seeks to unite all health care stakeholders in a conversation about the future of medicine.” I saw those conversations taking place every day of the conference. There were conversations between people who worked in the pharmaceutical industry and patients, physicians and patients, caregivers and designers, and patients and engineers. They didn’t just take place on stage or in the workshops but in the hallways at Stanford, on the benches outside during lunch and break and at the hotels where participants stayed.

I was lucky to have conversations with people I knew from the twitter world and the blogosphere by the pool at the Sheraton where I was staying. I was thrilled to meet and have lunch with Dr. Ann Becker-Shutte, who is the mental health moderator for the #gyncsm chat/ community that I moderate. She had conversations on stage, in workshops and in the halls of Stanford about depression and chronic disease. I had conversations with high schooler Jack Andraka (@jackandraka) who invented an inexpensive cancer detection test , Susannah Fox (@SusannahFox) whose website I have been reading for a long time, Marie Ennis-O’Connor (@JBBC ) whose excellent advice about twitter I have followed and Dr Peter Yu (@YupOnc)president of ASCO about my experience of attending ASCO as an advocate.

One night after a busy conference day I had the pleasure of spending time with Colleen Young (@colleen_young, #hcsmcs) , Janet Freeman- Daily(@JFreemanDaily, #LCSM), Annette McKinnon( @anetto, and Meredith Gould (@MeredithGould, ) and Ann. As online health care community leaders we shared ideas about how to better serve and reach our communities. After meeting these women in person I know that this is one conversation that will continue.
Sharing ideas and relaxing by the pool 

I had different types of conversations with other e-patients. I learned the best way to attend MedX  and how to not be nervous on stage from the e-patient advisors. My room mate, Meredith Hurston (@meredithhurston), and I had some fun and some serious conversations before we collapsed from sheer exhaustion after a busy day at the conference. When I spoke to Matt Dudley, I told him I was moved to tears by his Ignite talk. There were hugs with other patients when they finished their presentations when words seemed inefficient. Having a niece with Type 1 diabetes made it easy to strike up a conversation with the e-patients who had diabetes. And these are only a few of the interactions I had.

I also had conversations with the reps from the 3-d printing companies. I am amazed at the quality and usability of the products those printers produce. I spoke with Barrett Larson (@Barrett_Larson), Leaf Healthcare about his device designed to monitor patients and signal a change in position to prevent bedsores.  This made me wonder about  about how it could be used for Alzheimers patients so we talked about that too. I spoke to Tal Givoly  (@givoly), Medvizor, about the inclusion of gyncecologic  Cancers on the Medvizor website. And I spoke to Joseph Kim (@JoPeKim), Eli Lilly, regarding ways to increase the participation of patients in clinical trials.

I learned information about other chronic illnesses that I might never have known had I not attended MedX such as what difficulties other patients have functioning at work or adjusting to things when first going to college or getting data from instruments that record blood sugar. I also learned about the difficulties physicians face when given only 15 minutes to see a patient. 

This is just a snippet of the hundreds of conversations I had at MedX. It does not really do justice to the wonderful interactions and things I learned but I hope it provides a picture of how conversations can affect the future of medicine – one conversation at a time. I know the conversations I have had will stay with me for a long time.  

Every Day is a Blessing! 

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