Whaaa?? I am sure most who are reading this are wondering about the title. This is the title of my most recent conference, the Summer Institute of Informed Consent. http://siipc.org/program-2014/ It was held at Dartmouth College, and they generously gave me a scholarship to attend. They understand and value the importance of the Patient’s Voice in the room. There were doctors, lawyers, reporters, educators, healthcare executives, nurses (oh, I LOVE nurses), patients and Patient Safety Advocates, just like me. It was a gathering of about 150 passionate people who want better healthcare, but all focusing on Informed consent and Shared Decision making.
We learned about education tools, and approaches to SDM. We learned the history and saw example of SDM policies. We shared ideas and concepts, and we networked. The speakers were some of the most powerful people in healthcare, just plain brilliant people. What the heck was I doing there?
I had an epiphany this morning. I don’t talk about money too often, and I don’t generally whine, but although I was granted a scholarship, my husband and I paid to rent a car, get a room and have meals. This conference cost us around $600. That is quite a bit for two older folks on a limited retirement income. My husband (who accompanies me to most of these conferences) and I paid to be part of this conference. At the conference I was surrounded by some very rich executives and others. Why do I do this? Am I crazy?
No, I don’t think I am crazy. If I don’t go, and the others who speak up as patients and for patients don’t go, the most important and powerful part of any healthcare conference is missing. Lately, all of the conferences I attend include patient speakers (often unpaid volunteers), patients on panels with experts, and patient attendees. Organizers carefully choose strong patient advocate/representatives and donate scholarships, and sometimes expenses for these generous patient advocate volunteers to be part of the conversation. I contend that our increasingly large and loud voice is the most important and powerful presence at any of these conferences.
When healthcare executives and leaders meet in exclusive expensive conferences without patients…..just exactly what are they accomplishing? We patients often make leaders very uncomfortable, but we keep the conversations real and honest, and isn’t that exactly why we are there?
Thank you to the SIIPC for this intense and valuable conference, and for making me part of it.