The Hard Truth of Patient Engagement: Realizations from Stanford’s MedicineX…

I’ve now recovered from my #MedXhangover. The term commonly used to refer to the general malaise that the majority of attendees experience once they return to real-life after spending three days living within the confines of Stanford MedicineX (MedX) community. MedX is not your average run-of-the-mill healthcare conference. MedX is different. It tries and succeeds in its focus on creating active collaboration and change amongst patients, industry, researchers, designers and practitioners. Through engaging, emotional talks and activities encouraging cross-pollination of ideas, discussion and interconnectivity, MedX inspires attendees and gets them out of their comfort zones in a safe way. With speakers like Susannah Fox, Jonathan Bush and impassioned #Ignite patient speakers with their amazing stories, medx_snapshot MedX 2016 is a weekend many of us look forward to all year long as a way to get inspired and kindle projects with other change-makers in healthcare MedX has a number of differentiating elements from most industry conferences, but for me it is the passion to make change happen through the random collision of health archetypes from organizations far and wide, and a focus on the stories that have brought about change. For me it offers a lens through which I as a digital health service provider can get a view of healthcare, industry and patient stories from multiple angles. By bringing diverse and interdependent groups together, MedX has an experiential multiplier effect on ideas, emotions and personal reflections. There is a distinctly intimate and raw element to the event despite its high production value. The crowd is far from homogenous, providing an environment where traditional assumptions are challenged without fear and new perspectives have the opportunity to emerge and stick. For example, discussions around design thinking within the practice of medicine, the network effect of EMRs, democratization of innovation, opioid abuse vs. access, and the transformative power of mindfulness were just a few of the thought provoking and evocative experiences of MedX. MedX succeeds in creating a space for mutual learning and reflection. As a second year attendee, coming home means reflecting and digesting on things like the design-thinking process and its integration into healthcare, on the needs of patients, providers, and industry; sometimes conflicting, but essential to harmonize in health care.

For me as a digital health/patient adherence service provider this is very relevant. Digital health (and specifically patient engagement technology) is different from traditional tech that sell products to consumers and businesses. Trying to shoe-horn software as a service (SAAS) models within the framework of B2B or B2C channels are challenging to say the least. Navigating and driving value amongst patients, providers, pharma and payers in an environment of hyper vigilant security, privacy, scrutiny and scientific rigor makes one want to run for the hills. Let’s call it the B2B2P syndrome.Part of the key here is understanding the inherent difference between consumers and patients: As one speaker aptly put it “Consumers have free will to exchange resources for good, whilst a patient has a tethered will to exchange resources for something bad”. That’s some heavy s#*t. Now try creating a business within that framework!? As a result, what came clear to me this year was that patients don’t actually want to be ‘engaged’. People want to be heard


Real ‘engagement’ requires amplifying patient voices, providing a seat at the table and interacting on the same level while ensuring industry, clinicians and researchers are engaging, listening and designing from the ground up. Most in healthcare have not realized that many patients are already engaged in that they are inherently open-source, professionally sharing and consuming data. Many patients are masters of the DIY and adept at leveraging democratized technology and innovation, creating new movements and crowd-sourcing their conditions and solutions. True engagement provides something useful and desirable across stakeholders’ needs. Patient engagement requires supply and demand. Today, there is much more commercial supply than demand for top-down designed patient engagement technologies. How can we change the equation? Personally, I will be taking many lessons from MedX. The main one being that as a solution provider I have to bring stakeholders together with empathy to come up with innovative solutions to the problems of today and tomorrow. Making change is an agile and iterative science. Let’s stop asking patients to comply, engage, learn, abstain, do-more, act-now, and enter for a chance to win! Rather, I suggest digital health providers take a page from Stanford MedicineX and bring stakeholders together to come up with solutions to problems using empathy for innovation. Make change happen using longitudinal timeframes, design thinking and amplified stakeholder voices. How would you do it? Amos Adler, M.Sc, Founder and President img35 Amos brings speech, mobile and social technologies together to create mobile (mHealth) and telehealth patient adherence programs. Since 2008, Amos has led the design and deployment of dozens of digital patient adherence and behavior change programs globally while advocating for evidence-based approaches to technology-based behavior change. With a background in user oriented design methodologies, user-requirements elicitation, finance and enterprise scale technology deployment, Amos focuses on solutions solving real-world business requirements with patient centered designs while understanding the challenges of change management in clinical settings. Prior to founding MEMOTEXT, Amos held multiple technology and finance related positions within the Bell Canada Holdings family of companies as well as a background in social and private real estate development. Amos holds a M.Sc. in Analysis, Design and Management of Information Systems from The London School of Economics in London England, graduating with distinction was highlighted by his work within the launch of the world’s first independent exchange for international wholesale telecom capacity. Amos speaks regularly at events such as: mHealth, Stanford Mobile Health, Health Datapalooza, Genentech FutureMed2.0 and has guest lectured at the Univ. of Toronto