Health 2.0 DC: Most Memorable Moments
At all (good) conferences, there are moments that stick out in our minds as anecdotes of why conferences like these matter, and why our work in health care matters, and why we are still far from our goals of reform. On the surface, yesterday’s Health 2.0 brought together the 2.0 crowd and the government to brainstorm ways to change the system. But greater than that, this was a minor celebration of where we’ve come, and a major reminder of what still needs to be done. Below are my most memorable moments, leading up to the #1 most memorable.
5. Trisha Torrey and “Meaningful Use”. Trisha, a patient advocate who was misdiagnosed with cancer in 2004, represented the patient community during a morning panel, drawing rounds of applause from the crowd for her blunt honesty. Trisha reminded the audience that the people in the room do not represent the patient population, saying pointedly that the terms being thrown around (i.e. “meaningful use”) in essence mean nothing to patients.
4. Josh Sommer and Chordoma . Diagnosed with Chordoma as a college student, Josh started a foundation to prompt sharing of research and experiences around this rare bone cancer. His work has opened up astounding communication gaps among research labs and institutions, and his organization is now a hub for communication for research and patient support.
3. Jonathan Kuniholm and The Open Prosthetics Project. Unfortunately only half the audience heard Jon’s striking presentation during the patient breakout session. Using a prosthetic arm to hold his microphone, Jon explained how prosthetics have (not) changed during the past several decades. Then, as comparison, he showed a rotary telephone compared to an iphone in the same period. The progress of the telephone compared to prosthetics, which are still largely based on designs from the 20s through 50s, was shocking.
2. Jamie Heywood’s challenge. “Stop thinking entrepreneurs are going to save this,” Jamie said to the government officials present, challenging them to do more than open up data channels for the private sector to work with. Several nodding heads in the audience applauded as Jamie, Co-founder of PatientsLikeMe, asked for increased funding to entrepreneurs as incentives for continued innovation.
1. Regina Holliday and 73 cents. Without a doubt, Regina Holliday’s reminder to all of us that the system needs to change was the single most memorable moment. As Regina fought back tears describing her family’s treatment during her husband’s fight with cancer, you could hear a pin drop in the Amphitheater. Regina showed a photo of her husband’s medical record and tearfully recounted her battle to get honest answers from the medical system (including paying 73 cents per printed page of her husband’s medical record). Regina’s husband lost his fight last June, and since she has become an advocate for change, using art to describe the current state of health care in the US. If there was a resounding cry for change, this was it – no stump speech, just incredibly raw emotion that we could all relate to.
A kudos to the team at Health 2.0 for again putting together another inspiring agenda. Yes we have far to go, but the voices, passion and grit in the room was more that encouraging that change is coming. If this conference’s intention – to bring entrepreneurs and government officials together to create change – works, then that change can only come at a faster clip.