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Patients and Caregivers at eHealth 2019: Closing Remarks

August 14, 2019

On May 29th, I was honored to speak at the closing session of the eHealth 2019 conference.  Although it was me up at the mic, a multitude of voices combined to create the words I spoke.  I was speaking on behalf of an amazing group of patient partners, advocates and now friends that attended the conference, and shared their experiences with me: Pam Dawson, Randy Filinski, Rayane Islambouli, Christine MacKinnon, Alies Maybee and Anne O’Riordan.  They shared with me the insights they gained at the conference and their impressions of the future of patient partnership in eHealth.  I hope you enjoy reading the words of our combined experience.  It was an honour to represent such a great group of patients and caregivers.
– Francine Buchanan


Hello Everyone,

My name is Francine Buchanan and I am one of the patient advisors, along with Randy and Colleen, who were tasked with bringing the patient perspective to the planning of this conference. I think it is important to acknowledge that eHealth can be a model to those just starting out with engaging patients. eHealth for the past two years has brought patients in from the beginning of the planning process right up to the closing remarks. So on behalf of the patients in the room I would like to thank you.

All the patient scholarship winners who you see before you have all come up to me multiple times to share how valued they feel here at eHealth and the recognition that patients are key partners is important and a practice that should be spread across Canada.

Personally I also want to thank all the scholarship winners for applying for the opportunity to join, and taking time away from their busy lives to engage, learn and commit to sharing what they learned here this week with others.  Thank you.

We hope that the community of eHealth patents grows, and as it does we have more opportunities to share what we have learned with each other and others. One thing the patients noted was a lack of a central group of eHealth leaders across Canada that we can engage with to drive change. So we challenge the eHealth community to come together and bring us patients along for the ride.

The patients here before you all shared with me their awe at how much is going on in the digital health space. So many apps, solutions, and projects that can really change health care delivery. I was told that it was like opening up the curtain in Oz and seeing a secret world of the inner workings they were never before privy to.

But the awe and amazement soon gave way to the question – “Why have we not see this yet?” And that is our challenge to you all here today. How do we get these solutions rolled out and changing lives? How do we move past the pilots and into our daily everyday experience of health?

One solution is to keep engaging patients. Up here behind me we have patient partners, but they are more than that: they are also nurses, tech consultants, teachers, academics and clinicians.

Together we have combined resume that could run the most innovative health tech company in Canada.

So use us, partner with us. We are your champions. We are better than any sales team out there because WE KNOW how much this means to us in our daily lives.

So as you go back to your offices and start working to get these solutions deployed, make sure you not only keep the patient in mind – but keep them also in your offices, on your project teams and on your boards. Then come back next year and tell us the good news stories.  Sponsor your own patient partners to come and learn.  Invite patients to submit abstracts and give talks or speak on panels.

And if you are not yet working with patients our advice is – JUST START – don’t worry – “Fail Fast” to steal a term from Silicon Valley.  If you fail, we will be here to help you – as long as you are open to listening.

Listening is really the beginning, middle and end of patient engagement in the simplest form.

Go out for a beer with a patient advisor, listen to how things have worked with the people they have partnered with before and listen to the stories of failure.  Listen, laugh and learn – we aren’t that scary – we are actually quite fun and we had tons of fun this week, so on behalf of all of us

– Thank you.