The Exhaust of Medicine X

Stanford’s Medicine X conference has just driven by. It was an amazing ride. Tempted to wait before writing for the insights to distill in my mind, but feel the urgency to describe it before the exhaust dissipates.

At the beginning of the conference I tweeted (click image to enlarge):


Love these responses.

After talking and soaking in so many experiences from fellow MedXers, my main takeaway was “purpose”. It was this eerie feeling that most everyone you spoke with wanted to improve things, just like you. They were not hung up on dogma or politics. They were passionate enough to have educated themselves and could speak articulately on the issues. For me it was like soaking in a hot spring and floating in space — at the same time.

The thing that left the greatest impression on me, and was also a salient illustration of that purpose, was Regina Holliday sitting on a panel and addressing a question from the audience. She blustered at the questioner who was talking about issues in healthcare: “Nothing’s stopping you, if you want change, make it happen! Do it. Do it now!” It was raw. Emphatic.

Regina Holliday.

She paints a tailored story for people for free on the back of sports jackets. I’m trying to imagine how she can process so many different factors and create a representative work of art in so little time. Paintings with embedded brilliance and poetry. Members form a group called the Walking Gallery (click image to enlarge):


Medicine X had some of the most brilliant people from around the planet, all with a common purpose. The thought that came to mind watching Regina was a curiosity to know if she had a manifesto to match her enthusiasm, brilliance and artistry. Liza Bernstein talked about the indignity of Apartheid and shared a quote from Nelson Mandela. Mind flashes to the U.S. Civil Rights movement.

You see, African American civil rights leaders marched — they boycotted discriminatory bus systems, they sat in restaurants where they were prohibited — but that’s not all. They stood for something. We all know exactly what that something was. Everyone should enjoy the same rights regardless of skin color. Separate was not equal. Police in Alabama could spray water canons and release the dogs. People watching on TV were appalled by the violence, but we often see violence on TV. Individuals could be silenced and maimed, even assassinated. But there was no stopping the idea.

What is the ePatient idea? Let patients help? Give us our damn data? Patients rights? What would Martin Luther King Junior say if he were an ePatient today? What would Lincoln say? I’m not exactly sure, but I’ll be giving it some thought in the coming weeks. In the meantime Regina will be haunting me. “Do it! Do it now!”

What a great experience.

HT to Susannah Fox for the use of the term “exhaust”.

One thought on “The Exhaust of Medicine X

  1. Pingback: Stanford Med X 2013: Postcards from Summer Camp | Unnatural Language Processing

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