Posted by: menotmd | November 12, 2009

Healthcamp NYC 2009 – A New Hope

Yes, I am a Star Wars geek. So this Saturday, I was lucky enough to participate in a phenomenon known as Health Camp NYC. Before we left, Mark Scrimshire asked that we hold off the “tying it altogether” part until we have the opportunity to marinate about it. While my brain is still cooking, I thought that I should write something about the great interactions I had at the conference.

Typically, when I go to a place where I normally know no one, I move to the back of the room or to a corner, where I would be left alone to study the dynamics. Being a go-getter is a good thing, but when you first enter someone’s house – I like to watch, observe, and do some ethnographic work before I make myself comfortable. You may call that passive; I call that good home training. But as soon as I got there, there was no making myself comfortable or if there was that moment it was fleeting, because Meredith Gould (Twitter name: @meredithgould) immediately introduced herself to me. As soon as that happened, I knew the day was going to be different. Then Mark started talking like he was addressing ME! He said that we weren’t attendants, we were participants! There’s alot of expertise in the room and everyone should offer it. WHAT?! Never in my life (and if it has, I don’t remember) have I been in a room of hardhitters and was told that we ALL needed to offer our two cents. And oh, what a different day it was — did I mention that it was also $25? Yep, so I better see your butt there next time…

First session that morning, health literacy (lead by @cindythroop and @meredithgould)– how do we get poor folks (who may or may not have internet access) find value in internet health related searches? Okay, that sounds almost too good too be true, but let’s keep it real – the session was a test out to help folks navigate through this maze of empowerment, engagement and participation medicine. It seems like someone was doing their James Baldwin reading on the train ride up or listening to Nina Simone on the car ride over, whatever the case — the issue of getting disenfrachised folks empowered to become shareholders in their health was happening (I was scared to breathe because I didn’t want to disturb the groove). The discussion ranged from getting pharma folks using the same language, for example — don’t use the word “adherence” to a patient who will tell you that you are prescribing the wrong medication and if you don’t change it, they will change you. “Adherence” implies a hierarchy in decision making and a patient who will tell you about yourself will insist on being on top of that hierarchy (because it’s their body), so you better switch your language and use “concordance” because that implies that you see your patient as a peer.
The session also walked through health literacy and developing an intellectual infrastructure for all to participate. Health Literacy isn’t new to me, that’s what this blog is about – taking latin (anatomy, physio, patho) and turning it to something we all could understand. So in keeping with my blog theme and providing good links (I know I haven’t done that in a while, but now is as good a time as any), here ya’ go:

The Institute of Medicine — not easy to navigate, but if you do a search you’ll get some goody reading. There’s a publication on ehealth and health literacy.

Health Literacy Created by the University of Arizona, this is a training module about health literacy for health care professionals. Coolness People!

National Library of Medicine — now why wouldn’t we have one?

Health Resources Services Administration – like U of A they have online modules.

California Health Literacy Initiative – you can download presentations and curriculum from this website to teach to others.

Harvard School of Public Health — even though these fools wouldn’t let me put up a flyer for e-Patient Dave’s talk on Friday, they still got some good stuff.

You should also peep out the openhealthproject and justsoyouknow.



  1. Thanks for the thoughtful post about HealthCampNYC.

    The marinading process obviously worked! 🙂

    I hope we get to meet at future HealthCamps (

    • I’m sure we will, Mark. You keep holding these conferences and I will make sure I will try to get to as many as possible. And I am gonna try to bring a whole posse!

  2. I was super-delighted to meet you. I’m forever trolling these events to find people with whom I can roll my eyes at the same nonsense. Health literacy or lack thereof or, more accurately, lack of commitment to address is one of my things. Glad to discover it’s one of yours, too.

    • Ha! I loved watching you in action. It is an image that I will remember and hold close to me when I am in a room full of wolves.

  3. Great! Health literacy and health inequality is also a big concern of mine. It needs tackled on many fronts. Here is a post of mine about this.

    • Anne Marie,

      I just read your post and it is wonderfully on-point! I want to address the value of health literacy in communities where there is a health disparity. Here in the US, incorporating health-related credible searches in tech classes or adult literacy classes has to happen.


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