HLTH 2020: Pull Up a Chair for Patients at Your Table

Year after year, conference after conference, patients are left out of the conversations around their care. And while we’re far from where we need to be as an industry and healthcare system, more companies than ever are noticing the need to involve healthcare’s key stakeholder: patients. One of those companies, HLTH, is demonstrating their commitment to patients and ensuring they get a seat at the table by partnering and supporting the WEGO Health Awards for the second year in a row.

The WEGO Health Awards recognize and honor those making a difference in the online health community, providing an opportunity to thank and support the Patient Leaders who are working to build a more human-centered healthcare system.

In 2019, HLTH invited the WEGO Health Awards winners to attend the in-person HLTH event in Las Vegas and hosted a live WEGO Health Awards ceremony to celebrate their achievements. As patients and caregivers shared their stories, the industry professionals and other attendees were quickly reminded of their “why” and the importance of seeing patients as people, and more importantly, as partners. There wasn’t a dry eye in the audience.

This year, HLTH has stepped up and given patients an even bigger stage at the conference. Out of an abundance of caution for COVID-19, the 2020 event will be held virtually. HLTH has invited all 96 WEGO Health Awards finalists to attend the five-day virtual event and will help announce this year’s WEGO Health Awards winners during a virtual ceremony celebration.

To patients, the opportunity to participate in conversations at HLTH is invaluable. There are few other opportunities for them to attend sessions and weigh in with their perspective and condition expertise. The conversations about them now include them – and to patients, it means more than words. We then asked our finalists to weigh in on what they are most excited for with regard to attending HLTH. Here’s what some had to say:

Patient inclusion at events is important because you can’t have innovation without patient input. The big decisions in healthcare are all too often made by people who don’t live with illness, who don’t use the services, and who won’t be affected by the fallout of those decisions.Caz Homer
I am proud to be a patient leader at HLTH because the healthcare ecosystem needs to start paying attention to patients and caregivers. Likewise, patients and caregivers need to become active, informed players in the ecosystem. Kevin Freiert
One message I hope to convey at HLTH about patients is we are just as passionate about health as you are. Together we can make a difference. This is why we are all here to begin with – to create change. Effie Koliopoulos

Beyond giving patients the platform they well deserve, patient leaders also see HLTH as an opportunity to build trust between the industry and their communities.

I am most looking forward to meeting more industry professionals looking to create deeper connections between patients and healthcare leaders at HLTH. Damian Washington
It is only through honest partnership that we are able to accomplish some of our most powerful achievements. Trust collaborations are the only way forward.Lauren Deluca

You see, these individuals aren’t just patients – they are potential partners who know what their communities need and are eager to partner with healthcare companies who are ready to make a real impact in the patient experience.

My passion in life involves sharing ‘my seat at the table’ with as many other patients, worldwide, as possible. My experience and what I learn will become THEIRS too!Tiffany Westrich-Robertson
When partnering with patients, everyone wins. The patients are heard and get a solution to a problem, and industry is handed a gift in the form of identifying a true problem that their product or service could solve. Win-Win. Kathy Reagan
If healthcare partners with patients, together we can work towards a system where providers are more effective and patients are not only empowered, but informed and active participants in their care.” Alexa Chronister

And though this industry has begun to accept that brands must partner with patients for real results, the question remains, how do companies best partner with patients?

To partner with patients, you must first build relationships with patient communities, develop patient-led initiatives and partner with patients on awareness and advocacy campaigns.Kristal Kent
The best strategy to partner with patients? Be open-minded, welcoming and collaborative. Be willing to listen to their points of view, and engage in an open dialogue that is comfortable for everyone involved. Treating patients in a professional manner just like you would an employer/employee or a potential business partner would help, too. We deserve to be taken seriously as well for our time, efforts and feedback.Effie Koliopoulos
Reach out to real patient advocates who can speak on their own experiences and the experiences of their community.Justin Birckbichler

However, building trust doesn’t happen overnight. Like any relationship, the patient relationship requires action and evidence that your brand is serious and ready to not just listen, but to also put their feedback and ideas into action. As you engage with these Patient Leaders at HLTH, keep their words in mind:

There must be continuous patient dialogue, and not a conversation held every three months. No gaps whatsoever. It is pertinent to empower patients to make them active partners in their healthcare.Grace B Charrier
The most powerful way to show patients your brand cares is to give them an opportunity to give feedback, listen, and act on what is discussed.William Yank
The best way to build patient trust in your brand is to put real people in the campaigns. Patients who are living with the issues that your brand is all about can do more in the way of trust.Suzanne Stewart

If you encounter a patient leader at HLTH, meet them with gratitude and compassion. These leaders are excited and ready to share insights, experiences, and ideas on how all sectors of health can work together to truly achieve the optimal future of healthcare. Embrace the conversations with open arms and discover the change the patient perspective can bring.

Throughout the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing more of the best ways to partner with patients, why patient collaboration is so powerful, and how brands can truly build trust with patients – all directly from the WEGO Health Awards finalists.

Follow along with the #HLTH2020 and #WEGOHealthAwards hashtags to hear these real patient insights from those leading patient communities.

And be sure to connect with the WEGO Health Awards finalists on social – these are the leading patient influencers of the online health community and if you’re part of healthcare, you need to be listening.

Click here to learn more about HLTH and the virtual agenda. If you’d like to attend the WEGO Health Awards ceremony, click here.

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