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MedX 2014 and the Ghost of Tom Joad

Well the highway is alive tonightBut nobody’s kiddin’ nobody about where it goes I’m sittin’ down here in the campfire light With the ghost of old Tom Joad

Springsteen - “ghost of Tom Joad”

When talk moves to action, the world changes.

This isn’t a new revelation. People whisper their discontent and then someone speaks it out loud and then two or three people shout it.

And then someone does something.

Throws a rock, refuses to move, demands to be included…

This year’s Medicine X was the barracks for a new army. An army fighting for one of the most important social justice movements in the United States - the movement towards participatory medicine.

Participatory medicine is about the right for patients to be at the center of their needs, to pull in providers, designers, pharmacists, inventors, apps, hackers, makers, therapists, artists and caregivers of their choosing to build something which works for them.

MedX 2014 was a convening of healthcare stakeholders who have collectively moved past the point of debate. Should patients be included? - it’s not a thing this group needed to discuss anymore.

Instead MedX 2014 was full of people - patients, doctors, administrators, designers, makers, doers of things - who were busy…well…doing. MedX 2014 was a gathering of freedom fighters; crusaders fighting for a new social justice of inclusiveness.

I don’t often quote song lyrics. It can be sophomoric. But in this case, I find Springsteen’s Ghost of Tom Joad stuck in my mind after MedX 2014.

Now Tom said “Mom, wherever there’s a cop beatin’ a guy Wherever a hungry newborn baby cries Where there’s a fight ‘gainst the blood and hatred in the air Look for me Mom I’ll be there Wherever there’s somebody fightin’ for a place to stand Or decent job or a helpin’ hand Wherever somebody’s strugglin’ to be free Look in their eyes Mom you’ll see me.”

Well the highway is alive tonight But nobody’s kiddin’ nobody about where it goes I’m sittin’ down here in the campfire light With the ghost of old Tom Joad


HOWTO for hospitals: host a live MedX viewing for patients and staff

UntitledI've written before about Stanford's Medicine X event. It's a rare breed - a conference to which I feel a deep emotional connection. Those of us closely connected to MedX often say its where magic happens. I don't know any other event like it; with it's energetic empowered ePatients, innovative partners like IDEO and an anchoring academic medicine focus.

I remain convinced it is the most important event healthcare executives are not attending. Look, I get it. Payment changes are coming, volumes are down, we're all scrambling to get on top of HCAHPS...who has time?

Then again, how can you afford not to be a Medicine X? Why are we sitting in meetings to talk about raising patient satisfaction scores when the top ePatient minds and participatory medicine speakers are convening in a few short weeks?

But, I'm aware not everyone can drop what they are doing. So if you cannot make it to Palo Alto in September, my suggestion is to register for the Global Access Program - it's a free way to view the conference live over the internet.

Here's my HOWTO for hospital leaders:

  • Register for MedX Global Access
  • Get a large TV or projector + good audio system
  • Wheel the TV or projector into your cafeteria or lobby
  • Launch the stream
  • Invite patients, families, staff, leaders and medical staff to come watch

Easy, right?