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The Patient Expert: Healthcare’s Untapped Workforce

On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate the quality of the “real-world” patient evidence your team gathers to inform your mission-critical, life-altering work?

How clear are you on the needs, trends, and challenges facing the patients you’re trying to serve?

Are you aware of the ways your competitors may be collaborating with patient experts?

 

What’s in it for you?

Competitive success.

People, like myself who blend their extensive professional skills with their unique patient experiences are hybrid experts. We understand the “business” of healthcare and how the value of patient expertise can be leveraged.

While my experience as a four-time cancer survivor is a universal journey that represents the human side of healthcare, my evolution as a patient expert is one example among many.

There are legions of patient experts in our midst, representing diverse professional skills and hundreds of health conditions. They are eager to work alongside your team and within your organizations on a freelance consulting basis.

Here is a short sampling of ways your competitors may be collaborating with patient experts to accelerate project deliverables, increase quality of solutions and reduce costs of development:

  • Recruit, assemble and coordinate Patient Advisory Boards or Panels
  • Crowdsource consumer insights via quantitative surveys or qualitative interviews
  • Advise in the design, development, testing and implementation of tools, apps and services
  • Launch awareness campaigns to share valuable educational content, research findings, product or service announcements to targeted patient populations
  • Develop social media strategy, campaigns and content
  • Facilitate focus group discussions to help unearth patient insights from the participants
  • Speak at events to share key patient insights or moderate a patient panel
  • Advise organizations into new strategic areas of need for patient populations

Why Take it From Me?

For the past four years, I’ve listened to hundreds of healthcare leaders discuss patient issues from their perspective as clinicians, technologists, researchers, academics and administrators.

While I’m grateful to these leaders for working feverishly on my behalf as a patient, I question the completeness of their patient view.

The reason shouldn’t come as a surprise. Patients are too often left out of the conversations about the services and products designed to improve their care. Seldom are they invited to provide strategic insights that can shape the solutions designed on their behalf.

I’m one of too few patient expert who’s had opportunities to speak at industry events, such as Health 2.0. I’ve met with healthcare executives to strategically share my patient perspective and I’m honored to be recognized as one of fifteen Disruptive Women to Watch in Healthcare in 2015.

I’ve also sought to broaden how executives view patients like myself. We are typically thought of as advocates, not consultants.

It was Ross Martin, MD – my spouse and life partner – and the creative genius behind health IT videos, such as Gimme My Damn Data, who ultimately encouraged me to bring not just my patient perspective, but my professional skills to the industry.

 

One Patient Expert Profile

Diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in my teens, melanoma in my 20s (and 30s!) and breast cancer in my 40s, I know more about early detection, treatment options, wellness practices and the lifelong issues of survivorship than I ever wanted to know.

That’s the kicker.

Patients are simply people experiencing health challenges that none of us ever choose to have.

We are people with professional skills and backgrounds that healthcare organizations could benefit from, but usually don’t.

Imagine how someone with my expertise in technology business development could help an organization design and market its oncology solutions or wellness products. In fact, one tech company I consulted for developed a mobile app initially targeting oncology patients that was so slick it was acquired by Apple. Perhaps it’s time to rethink the role of patient experts.

What cool, creative or innovative patient-centered products and solutions is your organization designing, developing and marketing?

How’s it working out for you?

Are you leaping ahead of the competition, jogging alongside or falling behind?

If I’ve done my job, you now see the potential to benefit from healthcare’s untapped workforce and deliver even greater patient value. Like many of you, I help lead an organization committed to transforming care, quality, and outcomes for patients, families and future generations.

WEGO Health’s end goal is to unlock this untapped workforce and enable leaders like you to easily identify and hire “on-demand” freelance consultants. Let’s talk!

 


Kym is a nationally-recognized patient Expert, speaker and leader named as one of 15 Disruptive Women to Watch in 2015. Diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, melanoma (2x!) and breast cancer, Kym leverages 30+ years of cancer survivorship expertise, 20+ years of wellness practice and 10+ years of business development success to advance innovative solutions to benefit patients, caregivers and healthcare stakeholders. Kym leads efforts to ensure the WEGO Health Experts digital platform is the “go-to” DIY solution for healthcare clients to recruit, hire and strategically collaborate with outstanding patient and caregiver Experts on an array of freelance consulting projects. Kym is a proud member of the Walking Gallery of Healthcare. Off hours, she enjoys family fun, fitness, golf and honing her craft as a voice over artist.

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