MedX 2014 and the Ghost of Tom Joad

Well the highway is alive tonight
But nobody’s kiddin’ nobody about where it goes
I’m sittin’ down here in the campfire light
With the ghost of old Tom Joad

Springsteen – “ghost of Tom Joad”

When talk moves to action, the world changes.

This isn’t a new revelation. People whisper their discontent and then someone speaks it out loud and then two or three people shout it.

And then someone does something.

Throws a rock, refuses to move, demands to be included…

This year’s Medicine X was the barracks for a new army. An army fighting for one of the most important social justice movements in the United States – the movement towards participatory medicine.

Participatory medicine is about the right for patients to be at the center of their needs, to pull in providers, designers, pharmacists, inventors, apps, hackers, makers, therapists, artists and caregivers of their choosing to build something which works for them.

MedX 2014 was a convening of healthcare stakeholders who have collectively moved past the point of debate. Should patients be included? – it’s not a thing this group needed to discuss anymore.

Instead MedX 2014 was full of people – patients, doctors, administrators, designers, makers, doers of things – who were busy…well…doing. MedX 2014 was a gathering of freedom fighters; crusaders fighting for a new social justice of inclusiveness.

I don’t often quote song lyrics. It can be sophomoric. But in this case, I find Springsteen’s Ghost of Tom Joad stuck in my mind after MedX 2014.

Now Tom said “Mom, wherever there’s a cop beatin’ a guy
Wherever a hungry newborn baby cries
Where there’s a fight ‘gainst the blood and hatred in the air
Look for me Mom I’ll be there
Wherever there’s somebody fightin’ for a place to stand
Or decent job or a helpin’ hand
Wherever somebody’s strugglin’ to be free
Look in their eyes Mom you’ll see me.”

Well the highway is alive tonight
But nobody’s kiddin’ nobody about where it goes
I’m sittin’ down here in the campfire light
With the ghost of old Tom Joad

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  • Annette McKinnon

    All the emotion engendered by Stanford Medicine X bother during and after has done my dry eyes a world of good. It was such a succession of great moments, and since I have come home the pace of my involvement has picked up too. One patient experience conference (Of course only 12 days notice – shows how patient centric they are) and the annual scientific meeting of the Arthritis Alliance are now on my schedule.
    And as a proper empowered patient I pushed a little harder and am now going to the pre-conference workshop too. That should surprise the attendees in a workshop where the “powerful patient insights” will be delivered by video clips.
    It’s easy to agree with your sentiments that are so well expressed.