Medicine X 2015 Recap

This year, I again had the privilege of attending the phenomenon that is the #MedicineX conference. This is my second time attending, and I was amazed by how far we have come in just one year. As a newly minted physician, here are my takeaways from the event:

Get patients their health data – This is a big theme every year, but with renewed urgency this year. There was a keynote by Dr. Eric Topol (author of The Patient Will See You Now) and the recent launch of the Get My Health Data initiative. These initiatives are also in response for new meaningful use stage 2 requirements for getting patients onto a patient portal, and increased awareness of the HIPAA regulation that actually entitles patients to receive a complete copy of their medical records. Tom Delbanco of the My Open Notes initiative was also in attendance, sharing their data that not only do patients access their health record when it is available to them, this cuts across income/racial lines, it does not alter provider workflow and actually improves patient safety.

“Nothing for me, without me” -- It’s no longer an option for health care organizations to ignore the patient’s voice in what they are doing. The importance of patient advisory boards is really catching on (even at the FDA!). Empowered patients at the event were clamoring for more – it doesn’t make sense to just involve the patient in discrete, circumscribed projects imposed by the organization. It’s time for true patient partnership, where patients are involved from the beginning at all levels from choosing patient-relevant research questions to deciding on how they want to improve quality at their health care institutions.

Doctors should become more comfortable saying “I don’t know.” – We live in an ever-changing health care landscape. There are many, many topics that doctors should be able to counsel their patients on that we are not adequately trained for -- from gun safety to iPhone apps to domestic violence. Many panelists highlighted the need for doctors to be honest about areas they (and medical science) know less about, but still be willing to go with their patients on that journey.

As Roni Zieger said at the conference, “we clinicians go into medicine because we want to help or fix things. We get really uncomfortable when we can’t.” Maybe we need to learn to be more uncomfortable.

We look at the healthcare system and assume that it is stuck the way that it is. It isn’t. Things are changing. The ePatient revolution is here. Mobile health is ascendant. It’s time to join the movement, or be left behind.