Are Patients the New Black People?

February 19th, 2010 by DCPatient Leave a reply »

I had a call this morning with the head of a huge initiative in healthcare that invited the patient perspective into the process in the fourth year of the effort, despite the prominence of the term patient-centered in their name.  One of the reasons was that, “patients were hard to find”.  Now I know what she meant – she wanted patients who were able to speak beyond the specifics of their personal experience and had the professional skills and demeanor to go toe to toe with physicians, hospitals, and other business executives.  She wanted qualified patients.

I had a sense of déjà vu.  This felt to me much like the corporate recruiter lamenting that qualified Black candidates were so hard to find.   They then proceed to use the same handful for all board positions or job openings.  Now I see both educated, talented African Americans and articulate patient advocates everywhere I go ( not necessarily in the same places) so I thought I could use the same techniques to offer them to the corporate and policymaking worlds.

The best way to find qualified Black candidates is to (1) ask current Black executives to recommend some and (2) go where African Americans congregate.  Likewise, it seems the way to identify and attract patients willing to speak and serve on behalf of other patients is to (1) ask active patient advocates (and I don’t just mean the CEOs of patient advocacy organizations who may be excellent professional association managers, but may not be able to articulate the visceral experience of someone living with or having survived a condition) and (2) go where patients go – hospitals, doctors offices, and yes, online.

So I’m asking you.  Are you in?  Will you step up yourself or pass this message along to others you know who may be appropriate?  Please send your name and bio or resume to me at if you’d like to be part of the Patient’s Bureau I’m creating to serve as a referral source to conference planners, policy committees, and government agencies so no one can ever again have an excuse not to include the patient perspective.  I’ll also do a follow up post listing those names I am permitted to name so word gets out.

Thank you!

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1 comment

  1. Thehealthmaven says:

    Bravo to you, DCPatient for diversifying the healthcare voice to include…patients! The impasse on reform has opened a door for the most important voice of all..the patient. Doors have been know to close quickly so I do hope that this time is well spent! Bravo to you, thehealthmaven.