Advancing Meaningful Patient Engagement Face-to-Face and Heart-to-Heart at Health Union Advocate-Centric Conference in Philadelphia
After months of preparation, Health Union enthusiastically welcomed 86 of the company’s 350+ patient advocates across 22 condition-specific online health communities from all over the United States, England, Scotland and Canada at HU Connexion. Hosted at the Loew’s Hotel in Philadelphia, the third annual HU Connexion is a critical component of the company’s efforts to provide advocates with the tools they need to take home and use in their work as contributors and moderators while appreciating and thanking them for their impactful support.
This year’s Connexion conference, themed “Face-to-Face, Heart-to-Heart,” incorporated the ideas and needs identified by contributors and moderators with the goal of helping them build upon their skills, and create and renew relationships. With an emotional kick-off presentation on October 21, 2019 by co-founders Tim Armand and Olivier Chateau, the pair reinforced their belief and commitment to the importance of meaningful patient engagement through truly patient-centric work in our online health communities.
The advocates’ unique expertise, derived from their personal experiences with health conditions, foster strong community engagement through conversations to help make a difference in the lives of others affected by the same conditions. While sharing moving personal testimonials from members of the online communities, Tim and Olivier displayed just how important the communities are to provide validation, support, and connection to other patients and caregivers and the direct significance of their work.
Discussing mutual health experiences and interacting with thousands of people each day on Health Union’s online health communities, advocates play a critical role in building communities and fostering safe spaces for patients and caregivers alike. Throughout the two-day conference, attendees had opportunities to share their own insights, learn techniques, and build relationships with other advocates and the Health Union team.
“I gained so much insight about how our shared patient experience helps us move forward and encourage others along the way. The speakers and workshops were over the top this year!” Karen Hoyt, HepatitisC.net and COPD.net advocate, stated. “This year’s meeting truly lifted us up to new levels of patient advocacy. I’m so thankful to be part of the HU team.”
Keynote speakers, including author and TED speaker Nora McInerny, sparked insightful conversations on mental wellness, grief, and emotional baggage that resonated strongly with the audience. Speaking from her own personal journey of loss, Nora’s unique humor and wit connected with advocates and shared the importance of self-disclosure to initiate difficult conversations with others.
Advocates also discovered new strategies and ideas to create more meaningful interactions, such as using humor effectively, communication tactics, and caring for the whole person, through interactive workshops and breakout sessions. After Health Union’s User Experience team discussion to provide insight into their creative processes, the team was met with a standing ovation as advocates expressed immense gratitude for all of their hard work in the creation of original media that perfectly captures the essence of the contributors’ articles.
Amid downtime, advocates had a chance to connect and mingle with old and new friends, many of whom they’ve built relationships with online. The last day wrapped up with an “Ask Us Anything” panel with the Health Union executive team– a testament to the company’s core values of transparency and inclusion. From lighthearted questions on their favorite lunches to harder business inquiries on how they choose which communities to launch, advocates had a chance to ask burning questions directly to the leadership team.
Being “Face-to-Face and Heart-to-Heart,” HU Connexion illustrates how fundamental and irreplaceable advocates and the meaningful engagements they foster are to Health Union in order to drive forward their people-first mission. Advocates provide the opportunity to evolve social interaction into meaningful health conversations that not only help people live better with challenging health conditions, but also help healthcare partners strengthen their understanding of patients and caregivers in order to create more effective solutions.