’m a physician and have spent a lot of time over the years attending Medical Conferences talking to my colleagues about stuff we can do for and to patients. As I look back on these meetings, I must say, with few exceptions, the folks we were talking about – the patients – were not there.
Here’s a recent example. I attended a Patient Engagement panel at a big conference on Accountable Care Organizations in Washington DC this summer. There were four speakers and a moderator – all health care people – not a patient in sight. Imagine spending an hour or so debating how to engage patients when there were no actual patients on the panel. Pretty funny, except it isn’t.
Some folks would argue that we are all patients, so why do we need more patients to attend medical meetings. Because, I would argue, even though I am a patient and my doctor and nurse friends are patients, we are also health professionals. We understand the jargon. We know what to expect from the illness and the treatment. We know how to work the system. And, probably most significant of all, our doctors know we are doctors and nurses and they treat us differently.