Thursday, February 25, 2016

Healthcare's Digital Opportunity

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The time is almost here! The 2016 ePharma Summit is next week in New York City. With speakers from big name companies in both the digital and health spaces, like Facebook, Twitter, Pfizer, Merck, Lilly, Google, Johnson & Johnson, and so much more. Bringing minds like this together in one space promises to be a breeding ground for healthcare innovation and digital ideas. But there are a couple specific things I'm looking forward to the most at the ePharma Summit.

I hope to hear conversation about chronic diseases. I think there is importance around acute and chronic conditions; however, our healthcare system is set up for acute conditions. Our society is set up to diagnose, treat, and send home. When you have patients that are "frequent fliers," you have to have a different set up processes and, frankly, a different mindset. So, how do we transform a system into existing for two very different purposes? To me, the change we can look forward to seeing in our healthcare system is going to come from patient engagement, digital innovations, and empowerment.

The chronic disease community is a strong one. Those three ingredients: patient engagement, digital innovations, and empowerment, can bring serious change to our healthcare system. We should be tapping into that community, utilizing their resources, hearing their voices. I think there is a smart way to begin this change, a way to collaborate that brings an immensely well-rounded approach to the idea of healthcare management.

The first step? Bringing the right players to the table, to the events, to the conferences, to the conversations. Most healthcare conversations have the majority of the players present, but there is still one thing missing. The patient. We should be bringing patients into the conversations being had by physicians, innovators, caregivers, researchers, etc. How can be begin to have conversations about bettering the healthcare system or providing easier access to care or better disease management if we don't bring the most important facet of healthcare to the table? Healthcare is irrelevant without the patient.

You have to ask yourself: did I ask the patient what would work for them? If we're trying to better the healthcare system as a whole, then why not go straight to the people who use that system. Patients and their caregivers, loved ones, friends, no one is exempt from experiencing at least part of the healthcare system at some point in their lives. With chronic disease patients, for example, it's about quality of life, about managing symptoms and medications and flare-ups. In that sense, we want better disease management and better physician engagement. Healthcare innovation can help that. Bringing patients to these events and conversations can help even further.

I look forward to seeing the patient empowerment shine through at ePharma Summit next week. I look forward to speaking with other healthcare professionals on how they hope to help these changes come to fruition. I'll be covering the Summit live here on the ePharma blog and on social media. Feel free to follow me on Twitter: @kristinmcoppens, to stay involved! Use #ePharma16 to join the conversation.

About the author: 
Kristin Coppens is a social media and digital communications professional, a health activist, an ePatient, and a multiple chronic diseases fighter and blogger. You can read more about her chronic illness journey on her blog, Chronically Kristin, or follow her on Twitter.
She will also be joining us this year at ePharma as an official guest blogger sharing insights from the event.

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