Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Stop Waiting For Us, We're Already Waiting On You

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Before the 2016 ePharma Summit even started, and throughout the past three days, I have been most excited about one particular session. Lo and behold, that session was slated for the very last session of the conference before closing remarks. Keeping me on my toes, ePharma!

The last session topic is: "2025: Where Will We Be?" Speakers include: Burt Kann from Healthgrades, Mary Ann Belliveau from Twitter, Stefani Klaskow from Google, and Justin Weigold from Facebook. Talk about speaking to this digital communications and social media nerd's heart.

Talking about the future of healthcare and digital is almost comical. We aren't looking at the future necessarily (I mean, we should), but it's more about the future being now. We have to stop waiting for the future to begin. Stop saying: "In the future, we will..." No. What will you do today? Right now.

The landscape is fundamentally changing, and not just in healthcare. We're digital, folks. Without the iPhone, we wouldn't have Twitter, and Facebook, and Uber, and so on. In healthcare, physicians are utilizing digital for records, for appointment scheduling, for patient portals. For me, the patient portal is a huge advantage in my overall health maintenance: I message back and forth with my providers, I see my lab results and radiology results far sooner than the physician office calls me, and more.

Regardless, even Mary Ann Belliveau agrees we have a long place to go. She stated in her session: "I haven't been to this conference in a few years, and I'm disappointed to see that we're still talking about the same things." There you go. Why are we still just TALKING about it? What is keeping us from DOING?

Justin Weigold emphasizes this even further. In his words, we're all frustrated: patients, providers, healthcare professionals, marketing. We're frustrated on why more progress hasn't been made in the digital healthcare space. We have the guidelines, in fact we have had the guidelines. It's up to the internal forces to put the guidelines to work and see how that forms the perceived value of the company's digital voice.

Needless to say, we have made progress in the digital space; 10 years ago we could not have predicted the success and amplification of social media, for example. I'm sure that 10 years from now, we will be singing a similar tune. However, most of the highly regulated industries are still so fearful that they are arguably 6-8 years behind.

And that's what I believe is the main issue: those regulations were put in place, but they were not supposed to stifle all of the innovation and technology. I understand the privacy and legal aspects of these industries, however, doing nothing is not an acceptable response. What is happening today is not acceptable.

My favorite part of the panel: our table full of patients. Give me the mic: here's what I had to say. Pharma and business keep talking about what they can do to bring patients to the table or talk to the patients and gain their feedback. Guess what? Stop waiting for us. We're already at the table. We're already figuring out how to advance healthcare and transform our experiences.

We're just waiting for you. And we've been waiting for far too long.

Make sure to follow along live with this year's ePharma Summit. Read about sessions and experiences 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, find 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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