A Stanford University anesthesiologist, Larry is better known to many as the executive director of Stanford Medicine X (@stanfordmed), not only a cutting-edge conference on the use of emerging technologies (including social media) in health care but also a conference that actually sets aside 10% of delegate places of patients. For e-patients worldwide it is clear that Larry gets it and lives the ideal of “nothing about us, without us.”
Inviting Larry to speak to Canada’s premier conference for physician leaders – the Canadian Conference on Physician Leadership – resulted in an interaction that was interesting to say the least.
Co-sponsored by the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) and the Canadian Society of Physician Executives (CSPE), the conference attracted an overflow crowd of about 430 Canadian doctors in leadership positions or who aspire to lead.
As the second keynote speaker on the morning plenary session, Larry had to follow a very dynamic presentation by Linda Duxbury, a business professor who had the audience in stitches with her assessment of Baby Boomers, Gen X and Gen Y and what they want out of life.
Larry was facing an uphill battle from the start.
On questioning the audience he found only a handful of people admitted using Twitter on a regular basis (despite which, #ccpl13 has a thriving meeting stream). And what many in our perhaps insular social media/patient engagement world would find almost unthinkable was that only 5-10 delegates, in that standing-room only audience of Canada’s possibly most thoughtful physicians, had heard about e-patients.
So, the world of @AfternoonNapper, @HeartSisters and @mindthecompany et al is a complete mystery to most of these doctors who are making important decisions about the future of the health care system in Canada.
The responses did not faze, Larry who proceeded to give an eloquent and entertaining presentation on why patient engagement matters and why doctors and patients have to work together to better the system.
What the lack of knowledge about the e-patient community demonstrates to me is a caution to those of us communicating about patient engagement on an ongoing basis that not everybody has the same heightened level of awareness about these issue as we may do.
The delegates at CCPL are by no means ignorant or uncaring about patients – I know these physicians are hugely committed to the betterment of health care and the wellbeing of patients.
What is not on their radar is true patient engagement and bringing patients fully into the decision-making processes for the health care system. And what Larry did was clearly and articulately explain why this matters and how it can work in a new technological environment.
I am convinced, Larry’s trip to Canada was not in vain and I am convinced he has made a few important people ponder about things upon which they had not previously thought.