World Consumer Health Congress, Washington, DC, Slides thrown away, Conference turned “un”

This post is dedicated to Chris McCarthy ( @McCarthyChris ) and Lyle Berkowitz ( @drlyle1 ) who I just featured being featured by Harvard Business Review.

“You have a tough job ahead of you.”

These were the words of a fellow attendee sitting behind me at the World Consumer Health Congress, Washington, DC, based on the fact that I was the closing keynote, and it was clear that the day was what we once called in medical school, “a parade of slide carousels.”

The parade was not uninformative, though, all of the presenters had very compelling content. Prior to all of the work I’ve done with the Innovation Learning Network, I would have said to myself, “I came here to provide this information, I’m going to provide it.” Spent a lot of time on the slides, would have been entertaining, etc., but to what end?

So with the (very enthusiastic) support of the World Congress staff, I threw away most of my slides, replaced them with a patient story, asked everyone to bring their chairs forward, and we learned from each other.

It’s hard to figure out to get the conversation started when people are expecting a slide show, the patient story is the best, and I used Regina Holliday ( @ReginaHolliday) ‘s, but really, I could have used any patient’s.

What I saw throughout the day was pretty incredible innovation – in silos. There were things the health plans were doing, things employers were doing, things doctors were doing (that would be my section), but there was a clear sense of the limits of collaboration between all the stakeholders.

So I asked, “With all of the amazing things we are all doing, do we think Fred Holliday’s experience is typical, and whether it is or isn’t, why is it happening in the background of all of this innovation?” – or something similar.

Without revealing any of the details of people’s comments (unless they see this post and want to add them themselves), several patient stories were shared, as we (I think) blended our leadership role and patient role. I’d personally classify the discussion as “awesome.” Way better than me showing off my shiny new slides.

People (okay, Communications professional colleagues) will ask, “Ted, great that you had a good time, but without the content you carefully prepared how can you engage people about total health, technology, the future of health care? Was this just a rap session about people’s experience in health care?” The answer is, you can, and I did, because people asked about how Kaiser Permanente provides integrated care at the point where they wanted to find out more, but only then, and I asked about what they did, too. I’ll also highlight a few points that I didn’t present on this blog, so it will always be there.

Letting people ask questions when it makes sense for their neurochemistry is a far better way to exchange information, anyway. Doing it at the same time you discover that the people in the same room with you are patients too is basically what we’re all here for.

Below is my slide deck 2.0 – many of the images should look familiar. You can compare it to slide deck 1.0. Thanks, World Congress, and of course #epicenter, where people believe everything is possible, because it is.


Your communications colleagues know better than to question your approach. 🙂

IMHO, there is no better way to represent a health brand than through open and authentic discussions of the patient experience. Thank you for once again proving that to be true!

Steve and Holly,

Phew – The questioning and teaching of you & your colleagues is the best around, thanks for taking an interest in physician communication and its growth and development – it's what makes you both so good at what you do,


Ted Eytan, MD