I attended the Sanofi Partners in Patient Health conference along with 130 patient advocacy groups recently. These groups ranged from grassroots patient driven organizations like DSMA and Diabetes Sisters, to health professional organizations like the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. The focus was on the patient. How can patients become more engaged and activated in their own health? What were groups currently doing to empower patients? And what would a better future look like?
My favorite part of the meeting was learning about how other organizations impacted patient health. For example, I learned that Men’s Health arranges for male healthcare screenings in NBA and NFL locker rooms. Genius! Those men interested in sports come from miles away just to check out the stadium. Now, if only Men’s Health could get male health screenings at Comicon and Poker Allstars too! I was also impressed by the number of caregiver advocacy groups. With focus on the patient, caregivers are often the last to be attended to. Finally, I was able to get better acquainted with Brandy Barnes of Diabetes Sisters.
One of the highlights of my trip was meeting Cherise Shockley in person. We have tweeted, text, and chatted on the phone a number of times, but hadn’t met until this week. For those of you who have not yet met Cherise, she is a firecracker! She was at the podium asking important questions of the panelists about patient engagement within the diabetes online community. She was literally “at the table” promoting patient advocacy. I introduced Cherise to the CEO and President of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), they were quite impressed with her. I’m happy to announce that she is the first patient blogger/tweeter to be invited to attend the national AANP annual meeting. We look forward to having her there to engage with nurse practitioners next month!
Another highlight was meeting Ann Bartlett and seeing, in person, her amazing Walking Gallery jacket hand painted by Regina Holliday. Ann shared a touching story of her misdiagnosed gallbladder disease. A healthcare provider had assumed Ann had gastroparesis given her history of diabetes. This led to several medical appointments and an emergent hospitalization. Not only was there pain, suffering, and frustration; there was a significant amount of avoidable healthcare dollars spent too. There is an important clinical pearl to be learned from Ann’s experience: not all symptoms a person with diabetes experiences is a diabetes-related complication. It’s important to not place blame on diabetes for everything. Individuals with diabetes get general, NON-diabetes related medical conditions too! Take the time to listen to your patients. Spend the same amount of time you would want your own mother would receive if she was placed in similar situation.
Disclosure, I attended this meeting as a representative of AANP. AANP supported the travel costs for me to attend this event. Sanofi provided all attendees with meals during this program.