Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Patients Are Not A Species

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Happy Tuesday! I'm here kicking off Day 2 of the ePharma Summit. It's been a strong start to the second day with inspiring talks from patients, pharma, and marketers. We're bringing more people to the table now. I'm impressed with the inclusion of patients at ePharma; aside from #MedX, I haven't attended a conference that has represented and invited patients so thoroughly.

Bringing physicians, health care professionals, pharma, patients, and marketers together for innovation and collaboration shines a light on a unique piece of these relationships. Patients are aware of this, but I cannot say whether or not the rest of the team recognizes this same consistency. Here's the deal folks: patients are not a species.

What do I mean by that? Often times, patients are seen as their own unique subset of people. We are seen as this community of 'different.' A great deal of health care professionals, pharma, marketers, and so on view themselves as invincible to the patient affliction. I hate to break it to all of you: but you are just as likely to develop any of these diseases as we were. We're not a separate species; we're all patients; we're all humans.

Maybe we need more patients who are ALSO physicians, or healthcare professionals, or work in pharma or marketing, to step forward and amplify their voice. Vice versa, we need those individuals to understand that patients are on the same level of expertise as them. The mind-boggling part of all of this is that it's common sense. It makes such brilliant sense to bring us all together. All parties can benefit from these conversations. So, have the conversations. Critique each other. Motivate each other.

I want to be able to look at my physician and know that he/she is humble to conditions that I experience. That my physician could just as likely wake up one day with widespread pain, chronic stiffness, and flu-like symptoms. For a one time instance, I'm wanting to scream: NO, I AM NOT UNIQUE. As I said, we are all humans. Let's check our humility at the door, on both sides. Patients can be uber critical, but providers can be oblivious. In your opinion, what is the happy medium? I think it's collaboration.

Matthew Zachary, Founder and CEO of Stupid Cancer, really hit the nail on the head this morning. His journey through cancer diagnosis, treatment, and recovery/remission held a common theme. In fact, he states: "peer support saved my life." The fact of the matter is we are all peers to each other. Working together and collaborating is the present and the future. Let's level the playing field.

Make sure to follow along live with this year's ePharma Summit. Read about sessions and experience on the ePharma blog here. Follow along on social media with @ePharma and #ePharma16. If you'd like to follow my thoughts and experience specifically, fine me at @KristinMCoppens.

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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