In a few days, it’s going to mark (and it’s crazy to myself typing this) my 3rd year in a row attending the ePatient Connections conference (aka #ePatCon on Twitter). It seriously seems like yesterday since I first started going to the conference back when it first started in 2009. My former collegeue from the Detroit Medical Center, David Ellis, who’s the current editor for the Health Futures Digest website (check out their Twitter page here if interested: @HFDigest) had invited me to tag along with him to check out what the health/social media conference was all about and ever since then, I’ve been fascinated and interested in going every single year. So this year, I’m very excited to be not just attending, but actually speaking at the event this time around and wanted to take a brief look back at the years I’ve been there and why I’m excited to be heading back.
The first year there, the initial image (shown above) that I saw at the conference and (is one of the main reasons why I love attending) was with the very unique set-up with well-placed roundtables, loads of available plug outlets, plenty of free Wi-Fi, and last but not least, a nice sized “Twitter Screen” displayed on the side of the main room and was a flat screen TV which constantly showed the live tweets going on with those in attendance sending posts using the given #ePatCon Twitter hashtag. While this set-up may not sound like much to the casual social media user, at the time a couple years ago when social media was finally hitting its stride, I saw this and was surprised (and mostly appreciated) that this conference wasn’t the ‘same old-same old’ I’ve seen before at different meets.
Instead of the standard “sit there and stare at the speaker” kind of conference, the ePatient Connection meet was just that…”connected”. With having the set-up of the fun “Twitter Screen” and the encouragement of attendees to tweet and discuss in real-time what they are seeing on stage, I felt that it was a very cool and innovative way to help people further engage each other there at the conference. While some attendees reportedly (and semi-jokingly) called the group of folks in front of laptops tweeting & chatting away during some presentations the “Twitter Trouble Tables”, I felt that the move here provided the conference a nice unique feel to it by providing a lot more great conversations amongst both the presenters and the speakers themselves.
And besides the great set-up, the people that I had the great opportunity to both see present and also chat during the conference were very awesome to say the least. The presentations I saw were extremely interesting and cool ranging from a talk from the CDC on how they used the power of social media to help get good word to the public about preventing the H1N1 Flu pandemic [remember that?!? :)] which was was going on at the time to conference creator Kevin Kruse gettting the results from a genomic test that he participated in days ago live on stage. And on top of the presentations, I got to meet up with people like Dave DeBronkart aka “e-Patient Dave”, who I had the great pleasure of interviewing for an article (click here to read) and Dana Lewis, who is creator and current moderator of the excellent weekly #HCSM (health care social media) Twitter chat, and whom I had a great chat with at the conference.
So after concluding my time at the conference in 2009, the first thing that I wanted to do once I g0t back to Detroit was to honestly turn right back around and start making plans for myself to attend the conference for next year. So I did just that and one year later, I attended the conference again and ended up enjoying it even better the second time around. I naturally took full advantage of the Wi-Fi hook up there, met up and chatted with some more great folks, and ultimately enjoyed the entire session with all of the very fascinating talks, particularly with this seriously emotional and inspiring talk from Regina Holiday (pictured above) that literally had the entire crowd in tears (a MUST WATCH here: http://www.youtube.com/user/KruResearch#p/u/5/1jp5LFLuCfA).
So after attending the ePatient Connections conference two years in a row in Philadelphia, I now am excited for coming back again not just as an attendee but now as actually one of the presenters on stage (see my talk title here). I do admit ahead of time that it’s going to be initially pretty odd to be on the other end on the same exact stage that I’ve been viewing and tweeting about in the last couple of years. But I am so excited and very appreciative of the opportunity to share with everyone the nice work we do with our social media efforts at the Detroit Medical Center (DMC) and hopefully also represent my good ol’ hometown of Detroit as well. #ePatcon….here I come 🙂