Commentary on Ashoka Changemakers’ Patients | Choices | Empowerment (please join!)

The following post was written to start off my week as expert commentator on Ashoka Changemakers Patients | Choices | Empowerment Competition . I was asked (via Twitter!) to participate, and have always been a fan of this work, plus with those three words as the title….

The post is also a refresh for me of the “why” I am interested in in what I am interested in.

The original is posted here, and a copy is below. Please head over and either enter the competition, or mentor those who have. More ideas are better.

“I really hate you sometimes.” – Albert Finney

“You love me.” – Julia Roberts

I saw Erin Brockovich for the first time this week, on the recommendation of Regina Holliday ( @ReginaHolliday ,, Washington DC’s “mural activist” for patient empowerment, and it tells the story of the value of leadership and change that can come from anywhere in society.

Actually, when I was asked to introduce myself to a group of innovators at Health 2.0 in 2008 using only three words, they were: “Change. The. Profession.”

There have been many times in my career when other doctors have asked me, “what will it take for health care to be more like what we want it to be?”

If doctors are asking each other this question, it means that more partners are necessary in this journey, and the best candidates are the people who see the impact of what health care does (or doesn’t do): the patients, their families, their communities.

In 2008, I didn’t know where or how I could collaborate with this group; in 2010, with the explosion of social media and greater awareness of the promise of health information technology, these connections are being made. All of us can now bring the reality of the patient experience forward and solve problems at the level of the patient. Even the largest health care organizations, including the National Health Service, are having this awareness, in my opinion:

With this in mind, I reviewed the “Patient Empowerment” Discovery Framework.  Besides respecting the work of several of the innovators listed, I recommend looking at the grid on page 13 (linked here).

Key points:

There is space/opportunity for people in and out of the care professions to change the way people interact in health care;


Ideas can be simple or complex. (We didn’t realize in 2009 that a mural on a gas station wall could be so powerful.)

In the coming week I am going to read current entries to the competition and add some commentary along these lines. I also welcome questions from entrants and potential entrants about the potential of their ideas.

I’ll answer questions in an “expert” commentator/advisory role. The “expert” is in quotes, because even though I have gone to medical school, I have not yet had stage 4 metastatic renal carcinoma or cared for someone who has.

Ted Eytan, MD