The IDEO Design Challenge

The Design Track for ePatients at the Stanford Medicine X Conference this year was an experience that demonstrated the value of teamwork. Where else could you see a cardiac surgeon, a researcher, GP doctors and a venture capitalist working with a patient to find answers to a health problem posed by a patient?

This is the way the challenge worked: two months before the MedX Conference the patients involved submitted problem statements to Dennis Boyle and his team at IDEO; participants got a shorter list back with requests for clarification and also received background links about design thinking and a copy of the book Creative Confidence Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All.

To start our day at IDEO we had a tour. The company has done amazing work in design and their workplace is full of people doing work that they love. Then we broke up into teams and I presented my ‘How Might We’ problem statements. We had a terrific facilitator, Tanya Rinderknecht, who nudged us back on track when we started to get too ambitious.

In design thinking there is much consultation and questioning with the users of the potential solution. The statement the team chose to work on was [...] continue the story

Is Seeing the Doctor 400 Times Too Much?

This is a cautionary story of how it can be expensive in time as well as money to know too little about your own health and treatments.

The 400 visits in the title is what it is because for seven years I went to the doctor’s office for weekly injections of methotrexate. Year after year I dealt with snow, rain, ice storms, paying for parking, dealing with the difficult receptionist and wasting time waiting. The only positive side is that I now know my doctor very well.

After that endurance contest I can say that for me the biggest advantage to being involved in a clinical trial was a conversation with a trials nurse who said “Why aren’t you doing the injecting yourself?” A classic “Had I But Known” was my answer. If I had had the faintest hint that I could have been doing it on my own I would have. This author was one of the queens of the HIBK (Had I But Known) genre That marked the last time I had someone else take care of my injections. Now with social media, people who are connected to other patients can find that answer much faster than I did.

Thinking of how many [...] continue the story

The Empowered Patient

After her newborn daughter experienced unnecessary treatments in the NICU, CNN correspondent Elizabeth Cohen began a quest to empower patients to better navigate the health care system, encouraging us all to be vigilant, be educated, and listen to our bodies.

Elizabeth Cohen is senior medical correspondent for CNN’s Health, Medical and Wellness unit, reporting breaking medical news and health consumer reporting on CNN and CNN.com. Her signature digital column the Empowered Patient keeps consumers informed on how to ensure the best medical care for themselves and their families. Her book, THE EMPOWERED PATIENT: How to get the Right Diagnosis, Buy the Cheapest Drugs, Beat Your Insurance Company, and Get the Best Medical Care Every Time, was published in August 2010.

How Remicade Infusion Pow-Wows Are Empowering Patients

Crohn’s and Colitis are isolating conditions. Because they are invisible illnesses, it’s impossible for a patient to walk down the street and identify another. As a result, we patients are disconnected from each other by default. To be connected to other patients, it takes conscious effort.

Friendships in real life are created by people being put into situations that allow them ample time to get to know others socially — for example, you meet someone at work, at school, or at a party.

Patients with Crohn’s & Colitis don’t have a natural setting for this sort of socialization. As a result, becoming close friends with other patients has to be a result of a created situation. It requires looking for others online or it requires setting up getting coffee with that cousin of your parent’s friend’s friend who you were told through the grapevine has Colitis. The truth is most patients don’t do it. It’s too much work, the odds that you will really connect with that person are too low, and the benefit is too amorphous.

What I’m saying is that Remicade, an intravenous medication for IBD, changes all of this. It takes disconnected and isolated patients and builds connection and empowerment [...] continue the story