One of the sessions I attended at MedX on Saturday September 6th, 2014 was on the topic of Social Media, Games, and Wearables.The first presentation was by Thomas M. Lee (@tmlfox) from Symplur (http://www.symplur.com/).
Thomas’s story was about the value of patient participation in medical conferences. He started at a high level with analyzing close to 2000 medical conferences. From there he was able to review conferences that had 1000 or more tweets, and reduce that number down to about 100 conferences.
At that point, Thomas and his team had to review each bio via twitter to decipher of those tweeting, who was a patient and who was not a patient. What Thomas and team were able to deduce was that there were 198 unique patients that occupied 279 influencer spots across the 100 medical conferences. Which means that patients attend more than one conference per year.
What this boiled down to was the simple fact that patients account for 1% of the total attendance at most medical conferences. In addition, when it comes to social influence and dialogue around most medical conferences, patients again only equate for about 1%.
Staggering when you consider the fact that the reason all of us are in medicine is to serve the patient.
If it isn’t well known, MedX has the highest inclusion of patient participation and inclusion of all medical conferences, even higher than TedMed. Impressive.
Thomas’s final conclusions were that those conferences that included patients performed better via social media and had far reaching social impact. He also went on to state that when all 3 groups of people are part of the same conversation, 3rd parties, patients, and providers that conferences produce wider and more clear stories.
Then Louise Schaper (@louise_Schaper) asked the million dollar question, “If there is social impact with patients attending medical conferences, how do we get industries to support paying for patients to attend when conference promoters and industry are looking for a financial ROI?” (ROI=return on investment)
The response from Thomas just about caused me to leave the conference immediately. His response, “It is good PR, public relations.”
If I as an industry “insider” (I have worked on the provider side and now work on industry side) can see the value in patients attending, how is it not as clear to others?
ROI is a vanity metric. It is a metric that business leaders like to use to show they are smart. So is social impact. Another vanity metric. If you ask me, there is a better was to view the real “impact” between patients, medicine, and industry…defining the problems that need to be solved.
Whether it was Marie (@JBBC), Janet (@JFreemanDaily), Britt (@HurtBlogger) or any of the other patients who spoke at MedX they all have a story. They have an insight as to their experience specific to their diagnosis. They see how healthcare is practiced to the majority, how it is distributed, and how healthcare is accessed. They have and still live the good, the bad, and the so-so of healthcare.
In a time when there are fewer dollars to be spent on research, new or better drugs, or even new technology, doesn’t it make more sense to understand the daily problems patients experience and focus on those breakthroughs?
Why do we in healthcare sit in our crystal palaces and dream of the latest and greatest thing we want to develop, research, or explore ? Why do we forget those that use our services, devices, and medicine and pay for our livelihoods? Why do we not ask the experts, the patients, what the problem is and have them help us define it?
Why do we jump to answers before collaborating and listening?
This is the real ROI of patients attending conferences. Having the experts (patients) collaborate with the other conference attendees to define the problems that need to be solved.
Then the researchers, scientists, physicians, and industry can pivot and plan their budgets on where to spend their time and energy.
If we did this collaboratively, could we make bigger impacts in healthcare more quickly, more timely, and by spending less dollars? Do we create a culture of win-win versus win-not so much win?
The ROI of patients attending medical conferences is NOT about a financial return on investment.
The ROI story I prefer to tell is the “Realizing Outsiders Insights. ”
As always, you can feel free to contact me at: CANCERGEEK@GMAIL.COM or follow me on twitter @cancergeek
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