Live from Health Action 2014...Saturday 1/25/14 - Families Usa Skip to Main Content

Live from Health Action 2014…Saturday 1/25/14


From: Talia Schmidt

The ballroom is buzzing as colleagues and friends come together for the closing of Health Action 2014. Business cards are exchanged, phone numbers given out, hugs distributed freely and frequently.

Families USA’s executive director Ron Pollack invites Texas State Senator Leticia Van de Putte to the stage for some closing remarks.

Van de Putte shares her gratitude to all the health advocates in the room for devoting three days of their time to engaging in the discussions here at Health Action 2014.

She pauses to relay her favorite Martin Luther King Jr. quote:

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is ‘what are you doing for others?”

“You in this room have answered it,” Van de Putte says. “You, everyday, are doing for others. It’s what motivates me in my work.”

She firmly believes in leaving the next generation a little bit better off.  This is why she was so triumphant when the Supreme Court decided that every person deserves health care and upheld the Affordable Care Act.

Van de Putte, who has six children, proudly shares that all of them have jobs. And health care.

Too many families are burdened with financial worries. But with the Affordable Care Act, these families receive something—a peace of mind—that cannot be taken away from them.

And it’s the health care advocates fighting for affordability and reaching those families that are responsible.

She encouraged staying strong against those oppose health reform. In Texas, she says, opponents tried to raise the costs for navigators and assisters helping with enrollment.

But it’s the work of advocates that keep her going.

“We’re so proud of the work you have done, and we know we have a lot of work to do,” Van de Putte says. “Especially those that have chosen not to expand Medicaid.”

“The decision not to expand Medicaid was a terrible business decision on the part of our state. We said no to $4 billion. That’s why we have members of the Chamber of Commerce now begging us to expand Medicaid.”

Van de Putte leaves us with the notion that everything comes back to health care. It’s imperative that we continue in our fight to preserve this right for all American consumers.

“What we do know,” Van de Putte says, “is that health and health care is the bedrock of any family’s success.”

From: Talia Schmidt

Saturday morning’s Health Action 2014 conference kicks off with a discussion about digital strategy and social media.

“What is this thing called digital strategy?” asks Families USA’s moderator Carla Uriona. “It’s simply to communicate.”

Sharing a message, engaging, and pursuing a call to action is a timeless thing; it hasn’t changed.

Susannah Fox of Pew Internet and American Life Project has studied the effects of social media on health care. She uses data in grant proposals to convince people to start using social media.

In preparation for this workshop, Fox admits she started the conversation on Twitter a week ago, soliciting ways that different demographics view social media. More than 1,200 people engaged in the conversation.

Younger audiences are on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, which remains the most dominant form of social media today.

Fox prefers Twitter. “It’s like taking a twirl on stage, and hoping somebody’s going to see it.”

What else we learned from Susannah Fox:

  • Instagram works well for information best expressed visually.
  • YouTube swamps Facebook. As WiFi and broadband take over, people are sharing videos more and more. “It’s very popular for young people, but there’s an opportunity for all users.”
  • Slideshare is best when you have a lot of information to share.
  • Tumblr, a very visual platform, is an incredibly participatory platform. “To me social media is as much a listening tool as anything else.” Fox shared Planned Parenthood’s Tumbl, which serves as a Q&A for readers.

Regina Holliday begins her presentation and within seconds, the audience learns what a bundle of energy she is.

When her husband was diagnosed with kidney cancer in 2009, he was transferred to five facilities in just 12 weeks. Throughout the process, Holliday was amazed by the lack of organization in hospitals regarding their electronic records.

The medical facilities told Holliday that copies of her husband’s records would cost $.73 per page and would only be available after a 21-day wait.

A short time later, her husband died. Holliday had requested her husband’s medical records so she could research his condition and care. She also hoped that they could make informed decisions together. She never had the chance.

Holliday threw herself into her art. She grew frustrated when people said art is just for children or a way of expressing yourself. While it certainly can be, Holliday uses her art for a greater good: for patient advocacy.

She uses it to raise awareness about important health care issues in America.

Her first community art project stemmed from $500 in paint supplies, a wall that was donated to her, and a ladder from her church. She painted a mural underscoring the importance of why patients must have access to data.

It instantly got picked up on Twitter and soon, ABC, NBC and eventually, the British Medical Journal.

“You realize you’re not just drawing on a wall,” Holliday says with unparalleled fervor. “You’re doing it on the internet.”

You can see her masterpiece, “73 Cents,” at 5001 Connecticut Avenue.

Holliday values the medium of murals because they’re permanent. “You can’t tell a wall to shut up.”

She has also painted about hygiene practices in hospitals that would potentially reduce the rate of Clostridium difficile, also known as C-Diff. She finds inspiration for her work from data online.

And it doesn’t end there. Holliday got the idea that greeting card companies should make hospice cards. She started a “TweetChat” that even TedMed joined, until finally, a greeting card company called her to tell her they loved her idea.

Last but not least, Holliday founded a flashmob called The Walking Gallery, a group of people who comes together to “wear our stories on our backs.” The members wear jackets or doctor’s lab coats painted with the story of a patient or an element of medical advocacy.

While she’s a health advocate, Holliday primarily considers herself a health policy activist. Everything she does, she says, is to make policies more patient-centered.

The Walking Gallery doesn’t make money; it’s a movement. But Holliday walks with pride and brought together an extraordinary community of health advocates.

Lawrence Swiader knows it’s a tough act to follow. He works for the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy and helps run the Bedsider program to rebrand birth control.

Bedsider’s mission is to take the fear and mystery out of birth control. It seeks to reduce the proportion of unplanned pregnancy by 20% by 2020.

“We try to make our content social and engageable and shareable,” says Swaider.

Swiader knows talking about birth control can be sticky at times, which is why he hopes people will take to social media to engage in a lively conversation sharing stories and facts.

When it comes down to it, this panel certainly empowers you to engage in social media and share your stories, hard as it might be, with the world. Our personal tragedies and triumphs can inspire us to get involved in a community that needs us to stand up for health care.

Holliday looks out at the crowd with a heartfelt smile worth more than a thousand words.

But, she offers some words to live by anyways.

“People’s stories are just as important as data.”