people + things: processing MedicineX 2016

I always set alarms. Even if I go to bed with no need to get up and an alarm set for 11 am, I always set alarms so SleepCycle does its magic. Last night, I fell asleep amidst the beginning #MedXHangover, without setting an alarm. Ten hours later (I woke up a few times, briefly), Fitbit informed me I went to bed at 11:13 pm, and slept for exactly ten hours. That’s what happens when on the last night of Stanford MedicineX, fellow Canadian, Bill Swan, has a brilliant idea and we stayed awake all night mind mapping while waiting for our 3:55 AM shuttle to the airport, along with Steve—the reason I was at MedicineX in the first place, to be his guide—and Guide Dog Murray (who did not stay up all night because that dog does not even stay up all day.)

I got out of bed, to finish watching my friend Ryan’s documentary about Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS), Forgotten Plague, with my MedX mug beside me, in use for the first time.

http://i2.wp.com/farm9.staticflickr.com/8355/29782610126_1d31a78a86.jpg?resize=500%2C375&ssl=1

Ryan and I met in 2014 at MedX, and I had the privilege of watching an unfinished cut of the film back then—it’s amazing, and even more so to see the transformation within the documentary. Go watch it.

http://i1.wp.com/farm9.staticflickr.com/8417/29526648800_83f83f2628.jpg?resize=500%2C375&ssl=1

Ryan and I on Sunday night by the pool.

I then tried to put my jeans on inside out and was almost successful, and then emptied my pockets of the dollar bills that accumulated there (like pennies, this Canadian can’t stand dollar bills).

 

“We probably look like hobos.” –Bill. #medx #brainstorming #allnighter

A photo posted by kerri (@kerriontheprairies) onSep 19, 2016 at 1:32am PDT

I’ve failed in the past at adequately summarizing MedicineX on my blog: it is too big for the words that I have, as I said in this video. So instead, this time, I will attempt with a bullet point list, in no particular order. I don’t have a good track record over the last 4 years and 2 MedicineX conferences I’ve attended of expanding on the stories much, but maybe this way I can have some hope.

  • Canadians.
    Back in 2014, Rachel and I started up the #MedXEh hashtag for our fellow Canadians to share in the story with us, from the Canadian perspective. This year, I met so many more Canadians in the past, and not just patients. I am looking forward to grabbing coffee with Dr. Greg Schmidt from here in Winnipeg (represent!), and connecting again with Bill and Amos from MemoText next time I am in Toronto, after learning about the technology they are working on for asthma management. Canadian Mental Health advocate Mark Freeman and I will, I am sure, have some good chats in the future. I am happy to have found so many people from this country, this healthcare system, engaging in this discussion.

    http://i0.wp.com/farm9.staticflickr.com/8155/29736868321_e67c586326.jpg?resize=500%2C375&ssl=1Thanks to Uber Driver Sean for pulling over to snap this shot of Dia, Bill and I!
     
    http://i0.wp.com/farm9.staticflickr.com/8233/29193203673_3d68ec2651.jpg?resize=375%2C500&ssl=1 

  • Connections. 
    It’s so cool when someone you only know on Twitter walks up to you and exclaims your name, and you greet one another with a hug. It’s even better when you can exchange stories with patients you’ve just met and know nothing about—your quick, 30-second elevator pitch of yourself, if you will. MedicineX is amazing for bringing patients into the conversation, but also for letting us have those conversations amongst ourselves with the ample networking time. Sometimes, you walk into a room for a presentation, and the speaker greets you by name because they’ve been seeing your tweets flying by on the hashtag, or IDEO p. Patients are not just patients, and students are not just students, to most of the attendees—whether healthcare administrators, doctors—we are there to share our expertise, too. If you are willing to share your story, and be bold, your story is valued.

    http://i0.wp.com/farm9.staticflickr.com/8598/29193262803_15a5de60e6.jpg?resize=500%2C375&ssl=1Healthcare Engineer Yang Fang and I, on a non-MedX meetup this weekend. He’s been working on a predictive asthma tracking app/site for several years now, keeping patients—like me—at the centre of his work!
    http://i2.wp.com/farm9.staticflickr.com/8546/29819898005_e047b8459a.jpg?resize=500%2C375&ssl=1http://i0.wp.com/farm9.staticflickr.com/8228/29192176734_4262e0fed6.jpg?resize=375%2C500&ssl=1Thanks to Random Guy Who Borrowed Bill’s Phone Cord at the Sheraton Lounge for his photography work! 
     

  • Conversation.
    If you don’t know someone at MedX and find yourself sitting beside them, it’s not uncommon to hear “Hey, what’s your story?” I found that this year more than in 2014, I spoke with a lot more different people than in the past—like caregivers, doctors, designers—and not just patients.
    Story is important at MedicineX. And then story, becomes solution: how might we is one theme that is commonly used when someone illustrates a problem they have encountered, and then the community dreams big with the realization this is not right, let’s fix it. (See also: stories, below.)
  • http://i0.wp.com/farm9.staticflickr.com/8016/29736914531_f1c4e463b7.jpg?resize=500%2C375&ssl=1Design.
    As Nick Dawson (one of my favourite ever presenters, and people, who told several of us “Come to DC and work in the design lab!”), lead the closing exercise, he said “How might we make research more delightful?” This is a common thread: how might we take something that’s okay, or good, and make it into something ridiculously great? No holds are barred, and this is a theme that IDEO has made an Integral part of MedicineX. How might we.
    http://i1.wp.com/farm9.staticflickr.com/8465/29193310403_bdd2e8ab80.jpg?resize=375%2C500&ssl=1Nick, for some reason behind the couches.

    Steve participated in the IDEO Design Challenge (video to come), as did Dia, where Bill participated in the Entrepreneurship track—all based on how better solutions can, and should, be created to solve problems caused by poor or unimaginative design. 

    http://i0.wp.com/farm9.staticflickr.com/8071/29736913531_8637a8b808.jpg?resize=375%2C500&ssl=1
    Technology is a huge player in MedicineX, but as both seen in the IDEO design challenge and throughout the conference, sometimes it’s not about tech at all, it’s about innovation, and it’s about “co-creation” with everybody involved (as much of a buzzword as that may have been). People need to play with design.

    http://i0.wp.com/farm9.staticflickr.com/8207/29706489392_ee3a8c4eb4.jpg?resize=375%2C500&ssl=1 

  • Stories.
    Every story someone at MedicineX brings to the table is important—even if you are not a presenter, you will at some point be asked “What’s your story?” (unless you are like, chilling in the wellness room being quiet the whole time). While I used to feel like it was mostly patients being asked their stories, I often heard patients turning to a doctor or a designer, or another attendee to ask “So, what’s your story?”

    Everybody has a reason for doing what they do—from Yoko of Sen Sound sharing and gathering stories about the last sounds attendees wished to hear, to the folks at IDEO, to every app developer or hospital administrator or insurance provider who realized “This isn’t right, let’s do better,” and went with their heart and gut feeling, even if it wasn’t the status quo. Everybody has a story—and the MedX community embraces them.

This is what MedX 2016 came down to for me: Canadians, connections, conversation, design and stories. It’s left me exhausted (that might be the all-nighter) and energized to do more, create more, be better, be more bold and transparent, and explore more areas I haven’t even begun to consider. 

There are more stories left to be told—if I’m not too wrapped up immersing myself in making things happen :).

tour de good things: medicine x 2014

In August/September, I ventured from Winnipeg to Minneapolis to San Francisco, to the East Bay, to Santa Cruz and Davis, California . . . to simply start the journey that lead me to the campus of Stanford University. I already wrote about the people—so, here are more of the good things. . . and a chance to meet the people and hear their voices and stories, and how technology and social media, engaged patients and engaged providers are changing the realities of medicine, and more importantly, improving patient care outcomes.

Disclosure: Stanford University, Stanford Medicine and Stanford Anesthesia, as well as their partners (including the Kadry Foundation, Eli Lilly, and Boeringher Ingelheim) covered part of my costs to attend Stanford Medicine-X, including part of my airfare, one night of hotel, and a significant portion of my conference fees. As a recipient of an ePatient Scholarship in the Engagement/Producer track, I was required to produce a blog post, video, etc. to share the stories of Medicine X—but, let’s face it, I would have done so anyways :].

Tour de Good Things: People. | #medx 2014

The Tour de Good Things was a way i could summate the crazy journey I took to culminate August and begin September—both on an extremely high note. It has been nearly impossible to come down from the high that begun prior to Medicine X 2014 at Stanford University [disclosure], especially since the journey encompassed 7,227 kilometres (or about that). The last Thursday in August, I got into a car with a 60L hiking backpack of necessities and a drawstring backpack of medications, my only “prepared” travel document being my passport, and left home for 12 days. I arrived back into Winnipeg by plane last Monday after a red eye flight via Minneapolis—my initial destination.

There are many posts in here waiting to be written, and a video to come. But as many, many others have summated, the power, the magic, the amazing of Medicine X is in the people: This is a theme that would cover the entirety of the Tour de Good Things.

Minneapolis.

This kid (my cousin, Dean) headed down to University of Minnesota to start becoming an engineer of the probably civil variety, not the train variety [though, train engineers are probably also very civil]. So thanks to him I got a really long ride to the airport.

I also had grilled cheese and an awesome conversation on the parallels of asthma and T1 diabetes with these lovelies, Scott and Heather.

SFO. All over the East Bay. Santa Cruz. Davis.

My awesome aunt, Linda, and my grandma dropped me off at MSP after a 4.5 day drive to the airport […okay, the airport truly is only 8 hours from home. Not that that’s close.] and a four hour flight, I hit ground at SFO and was swept up into my “Cali-bestie” Steve’s truck, where (after picking up pizza), I FINALLY got to meet his long time partner and now husband, Doug (finally. On my third visit to the Bay Area—third time’s the charm, right? Doug is, of course, to a tee of how Steve describes him, and a total sweetheart just like Steve). We headed to Santa Cruz the next day, and San Jose where I finally got to meet his mom, Claire, his sister Sheree, and Sheree’s husband, Dan, who had us over for lunch on Monday.

The next day we headed over to Davis to get Steve’s new bass set up by a cool dude named Harrison.

San Francisco.

Steve drove me out to SF on Wednesday [because he is the best] to ensure I made my connection with my friend Carly (whom I met at MedX in 2012!) at the Twitter building. Carly’s friend Samantha was [at the time] working for Twitter, and had invited Carly for lunch—and opened up the invitation to any of Carly’s friends who wanted to come, too, which was beyond awesome :). (Samantha on the left, Carly—our link!—in the middle :].) Thanks, ladies!

Carly and I made a brief stop in Japantown after lunch and our tour around Twitter with Samantha, and then headed for Palo Alto. Not long after arriving, we had a spontaneous MedX ePatient gathering by the pool—meeting, and reuniting, with a lot of kickass ePatients—friends.

Carly and I (left, of course), [fellow Canadian!] Annette, Liza, Meredith, Dee, Marie (from Ireland!) and Michael (from England!) at the Sheraton. (Thanks to the Sheraton team member who ran out to take this shot for us!)

The next day, the fun really got started when Dr. Larry Chu [the beyond awesome MedX Conference Director!] introduced us to the Selfie Stick [here’s a professional picture (source) of Leslie, Emily, Karen, Rachel [TEAM CANADA!], myself, and Nikki selfie-ing with a selfie-stick on pre-conference workshop day!]

Of course, Ryan had to give it a go once we hit MedX full-stride—he had to make himself short for me so that a) I could adequately put my arm around his shoulders, and b) because he is too tall and was blocking the world medicine :).

No selfie stick for Brett and I, though (…everybody is SO TALL). He yelled “Oh hey, it’s Kerri!” in the corner right by the selfie station, and then we hugged, and I was like “okay we need to selfie so we don’t forget!” :]

We don’t always selfie in front of the selfie wall—sometimes we selfie in front of the gold badge door. Not only was Devon, below, a hit among the crowd at MedX, I was super excited to find another lunger on the scene [I mean, asthmatics DO hide everywhere, but… they hide].

Devon spoke on a panel about “the non-smartphone patient”, and has COPD. And, though he seemed adamantly against it before I showed him everybody tweeting his quotes, I did get him signed up on Twitter!

My super sweet roomie, Karen, and behind us, her poster presentation on the metaphorical dance that is chronic illness. Karen is a sport psychologist from Mexico and is generally amazing, so we never had a shortage of fun things to talk about :).

And on the subject of roommates, my 2012 roomie, Kim, and I—clearly in the club, and not at a medical conference. #ClubMedX

And, Miss Zoe Chu. While puppy, and not people, she lovingly made MedX granola for me and we had selfie times, so she clearly belongs on this list :].

Joe from Eli Lilly’s Team of Good People and Awesomeness (aka Lilly Clinical Open Innovation) and I—we look less like a painting in person. Probably. 🙂

And, Jerry from Eli Lilly, who was in the elevator on Thursday morning before Partnering for Health when a bunch of ePatients yelled my name and hugged me as I got on the elevator. Except we didn’t know we were supposed to know each other yet, and then he sat down beside me at Partnering for Health and identified us as the people from the elevator and said he was wondering if we were Medicine X people. Because I am all class, I was like “Yeah, we were the people yelling and hugging in the elevator—did you feel left out?! Do you need a hug!?”—he accepted this crazy Canadian’s hug, so we are clearly meant to be friends. Also, he’s awesome. And broke into a presentation during Partnering for Health when all the patients were very confused on Twitter.

Alan, Britt, Leslie, myself and Julie (Photo grabbed from Britt via Facebook!)

Sarah—one of the awesome ePatient advisors—with her CANADIAN SCARF, Rachel and I, after the closing ceremony of Medicine X.

And below, Britt (on the ePatient advisory team), Marvin—who is super sweet and I didn’t get to connect with nearly enough! :)—Rachel and I. 

And, my own ePatient advisor and friend from 2012, Chris (he’s laughing about attempting to hug me with the giant hiking backpack on)—just before Joe (below!), Marie and I headed to the airport (where I almost lost my phone and Joe totally provided an amazing Joe-hug to alleviate my stress, and told me how I could get the Delta people to bring it to me to avoid having to go back through security, since I’d left it at the check-in kiosk). 

These people—and ALL the people I met and interacted with at MedX

(I can’t even source those photos anymore :])

—are not the entirety of the story of Medicine X: but they are the part that matters most. As are the people that preceded my arrival for Medicine X to my own part of the journey, and the people who engaged in #MedX via Twitter: WE belong here.

(Photo of photo cred to Joe Riffe)

And here isn’t always a place: often, it’s a state.

And I love each and every one of you, and I hope our stories continue to connect in a way that makes a difference: Remember to not lose sight of where you were—where we were—hold on to that feeling.

We’ll change the world together.

stanford #medx: from your couch!

Stanford Medicine X is “a medical conference for everyone”.

Everyone includes a lot of patients—including myself, and people like my friends Kim and Carly [and many others!] who also attended #medx in 2012 and will be back this year.

Cherise, Kim, Chris and I in 2012!

More importantly right now… everyone includes YOU—or, anybody who is chilling at home on their couch, or at their kitchen table, or anywhere there is internet, thanks to the Medicine-X Global Access Program! Through the Global Access Program you can join the main stage fun of Medicine X, check out how technology is evolving and changing healthcare, and how that is becoming more and more accessible to both patients and care providers*. Med-X is taking place from September 5th through 7th [with workshops happening before as well].  And, it’s free! [I know right?! Free is my favourite price, too]  If you’ve never attended a conference virtually before, Carly is a master: she has even written an amazing virtual conference attendance how-to guide to help make the most of your experience.

Remember: Medicine-X… is for everyone. Everyone who participates in Medicine X — whether in person or online — is there for similar reasons: We believe our stories can make a difference; we recognize the potential technology has to improve healthcare—to improve patient outcomes; to change the way we think of–and manage–our own stories that involve chronic disease or another circumstance that has caused us to more deeply invest in healthcare; in changing our own outcomes and interactions within our care. And we all believe that we can be part of a bigger story, where the patient truly becomes the centre of care—not the system.

I guarantee Twitter will be on fire, so if you’re watching from home [or work… Not that I’m encouraging that :].], ensure you jump on that before the conference if you’re unfamiliar. [My soon-to-be-roommate, Karen, even tweeted last year in both Spanish and English—clearly she is magic. She’s also a sport psychologist and also has asthma, so we were totally meant to be roommates and I’m beyond excited to meet her.] And, while I could tell you what I’m excited for on the main stage, we might be here all day: so check out the program here and get stoked yourself!

Curious? Check it out. Register. [Remember, it’s free.]

And if you have questions, ask away below, or on twitter at #medx—we’ll help you out.

 

*Access to technology among providers in the Western world probably varies much on your geography/medical system. Just because it’s available, doesn’t mean that—for example—iPads are popping up in Canadian hospitals. Here in Winnipeg, electronic charting is sometimes either a) a new thing, or b) not even happening yet.  Which is among reasons why having international input and attendance at these conferences is so important: we can’t improve care through technology we don’t have access to—and, beyond financial constraints, knowledge of value in application is the other huge barrier to integrating technology to improve patient care, or improve the lives of all people. Knowing what I know, I shouldn’t have been shocked when my new-ish gynaecologist, Alaa, pulled up my pathology report on his computer at my first appointment. And I should probably stop being so shocked when I find someone I know wearing a Fitbit or using MyFitnessPal. And, for those of you Canadians who are in this boat with me, don’t worry: there are a handful of Canadians in the crowd, and we’ll do our best to get our voices out there, too.