Monday, August 1, 2011

What I Did at Summer Camp... I Mean at a Summer HealthCamp in Florida :-)

Out of the blue, I received a direct message on Twitter from “HealthCampFLA” telling me that they had spoken to the founder of The HealthCamp Foundation, Mark Scrimshire, and that would like me to call them regarding HealthCampFLA. Until that point in time, I was fairly certain that I was not going to be able to attend this particular HealthCamp being held in Tampa, Florida on July 30, 2011, due to time constraints. As soon as I was able, I phoned both Joel Lopez and Brenda Young who, along with Tracy Ingram, were the local co-organizers for this Florida HealthCamp with the Twitter hashtag #hcFLA. I could tell immediately, during our initial conference call, that these two people were very serious about executing a world-class event there in Tampa. As a veteran of many HealthCamps I was intrigued by this relatively isolated, local group and the incredible speakers that had committed to participating. The opportunity to interact with the awesome folks at the facility sponsor, Kforce, coupled with a great speaker line up began to tilt the scale towards attending. I must say though, it was the opportunity for lunch with my Grandmother in Sarasota that sealed the deal :-).

I may have forgotten to mention that the final decision to attend this HealthCamp was made a scant 24 hours before I needed to board the flight to attend. After a frantic scramble to arrange flight, car, hotel, etc., I was sitting in a big ol' jetliner heading to DC to get to Tampa, thinking how incredible it was to be part of this amazing movement that brings together people from all industries associated with healthcare: Innovators, Patients, Providers, Payors, Technologists, “BrainHackers”, Quantified Self participants, Artists, Writers, Marketers and Social Media mavericks. What more can a healthcare Geek wish for?

Landing in Tampa, we headed to check out the “unconference” space at Kforce with the organizers. There we met Shelby and Hernan, who were our point people at Kforce, to review the facility, layout ans plan for the next day. Awesome people, awesome place and we left there excited for the event. The proximity to downtown Ybor City lent itself to the group going out for an excellent Greek dinner at the incredible Akropolis restaurant. The grilled octopus and tsatziki were no match for this hungry crowd but handily beat any such delicacy I've had stateside and swept me back to Rhodes in my mind. A nice healthy evening of eating, laughing and drinking- all in moderation- turned a group of strangers into lifelong friends ready for the next day's HealthCamp.

Waking up late, from an incredible night's sleep, I dropped the top on the rental Mustang and hit the gas pedal. We had people to meet and things to learn! Moments later, I wheeled into the KForce parking lot ready to rock. It was obvious that the team had been hard at work, tables set up, registration organized, wireless setup and A/V in place. Another magical HealthCamp transformation of a blank canvas space was ready to go. Waves of attendees filtered through registration and into a Health Geeks disneyland; smart people, great topics and entertaining, informative speakers. The day was shaping up nicely. As usual, I wished that I could participate in almost every session but was physically able to attend only a quarter of the discussions. Four rooms were organized with a wide variety of topics, suggested and presented by the attendees, and the show began. I, like many of the hardcore Health Geeks present, HAD to attend Dr. Joe Francis' “BrainHacking” discussion- I mean, come on- Neuron spikes, nail guns, brain to machine interfaces and memory erasure- If THAT is NOT breakfast discussion, I don't know what is :-).

 Following the first session on BrainHacking (which I tweeted about on #hcfla) I proceeded to the forum on presenting Innovation and technology to hospitals, presented by the entertaining and knowledgable Ford Kyes (cheered on by his better half, Barb). OK, so you THINK you know how the healthcare purchasing decisions are made...I'd wager you could learn A LOT from Ford when he speaks about the influence and motivation of a hospital's Board, C-suite, Physicians, Customers and Managers...a WHOLE lot! If you ever need a coach, call Ford Kyes, and tell him I sent you. If he can't help must be REALLY skilled, savvy and experienced. If you get a chance to learn from this man, take it!

After that presentation, I needed to reflect, took a few minutes to meet some participants (like Carlos Garcia from Orlando) and forgot to remember, that I forgot meeting, @MissDestructo in between seminars... must have been that BrainHacking memory erasure going viral ;-) (a twitter joke for those confused). Afterwards, for lunch, we went for some amazing Cuban food a retro-swanky club next door and met even more remarkable people doing innovative “stuff”- Coders, coding. Innovators, Innovating. Busy Business types with their busy business buzz and some Healthcamp sponsors, initiates and old friends, as well. Yum, Yum, and did I mention YUM!! The food was good, too! After lunch, we looked like a pack of sweltering penguins waddling back to the Pole, full, ready for more HealthCamp- or a well-timed siesta. I had strategically picked the after lunch slot to present about the use of communications technology (like to effect better healthcare outcomes for patients. I figured if the idea could capture, awaken and inspire HealthCampers in a Cubano Coma- then, and only then, could it have a shot on the open market. Right?

Well, let me say that the interest, feedback and interaction was beyond reaffirming, the excitement was palpable and the possibilities presented by the attendees for the use of this technology were nothing short of revolutionary! The possibility of immediate inter-connectivity between healthcare facilities and their staff by two-way phone, text and email had made our lunchtime lethargy a distant memory. The potential for future applications of this technology, in various arenas, had sparked the organic synthesis and interplay of complex use cases, integrations and adaptations from a group of participants who had never heard of the technology. THAT, to me, is what HealthCamp is all about- WE are a much more powerful force than YOU or I alone - I firmly believe that the collective WE has the power, ingenuity, determination and desire to not only change healthcare for the better- but to change ourselves, individually, and collectively for the better- and THAT is why WE are here.

After my interactive presentation, demo and brainstorming session,  I was fortunate enough to meet several more inspiring attendees. This included the quietly powerful, and moving, Oliver DeSofi who, ironically, was presenting the next discussion I was going to attend. Oliver is a simple man with a simple mission- to share his moving story- and to make sure others can learn from his experience. And learn we did! Oliver related his life to us; from a story book of dreams, a life of adventure and intrigue, of successes and failures and of his eternal Love and compassion for his wife. When she was diagnosed with severe MS, Oliver changed his career from CEO to part-time self-employment and became the primary caregiver for his beloved. He experienced the inhumanity, incompetence and injustice of American “Healthcare” first-hand, with his own experiences, and second-hand through the suffering of his wife at the hands of the “establishment”. The healthcare system treated Oliver and his wife like insignificant specks on the face of humanity, like ignorant consumer peons who were simply some figures on a spreadsheet, unworthy of respect, dignity and compassionate, competent care. Like all of us, Oliver knew better and navigated this morass to find, and provide, the very best care for his wife.

What I saw was a giant of a man, unabashedly sharing the depth of his love, respect and concern for for his spouse with a room full of strangers while recounting his ingenuity in navigating the system to achieve the best results for his better half. I was moved to tears as he recounted the imaginary “vacations” he would re-create for his wife when she became to ill to travel, as they loved to do. He would talk her through the journey to the airport, through check-in, security and onto the “airplane”. He would then pour first-class champagne, request first-class appetizers and settle in with his sweetie for an “in-flight” movie. They would then imagine that they had landed in some new, exotic travel destination, see the sights and talk her into a peaceful, fulfilled slumber. Oliver may not know this, but I'll never forget what my many years as a nurse (and his story) have taught me- there is no greater strength than genuine love, compassion and caring- THAT is what makes a male into a Man, and Oliver is one hell of a man. Check out his book “Caregiving: MyStory, Your Guide”” and be prepared to laugh, and cry, your cynicism away. I will be sure to introduce Oliver to Regina Holliday, ePatientDave, Trisha Torrey and Chuck Denham because THEIR story MUST be heard!

Brain teased and highly stimulated, I simply HAD to end the day with another BrainHacking session that took us another level down the rabbit hole. Presented by the tireless Tracy Ingram we explored “bio-rhythm resonance and the diurnal beats” (great band name?) Imagine if we could reset our body's rhythm using sub-audible auditory stimulation? Who do what??? Imagine if your heartbeat was irregular and you were exposed to a diurnal beat that approximated a healthy heartbeat. Is it possible that your body would seek resonance with the health rhythm? If it did would it be considered “fixed”? If it was “fixed” would it stay that way? Why or Why not? Too much? OK, how about a little energy balancing- say a body meridian out of whack- could it be re-tuned to a more harmonious state via aural stimulation? If it could, would this have health benefits to the one “re-tuned”? Wanna drive the FDA nuts? Simply “prove” these treatments work and you'd be well on the way. Biofeedback, BrainHacking, Auditory Rebalancing, and Diurnal beats...When was the last time you were “BrainHacked”? See, you simply HAVE to go to a HealthCamp near you- Better yet, contact the HealthCamp Foundation and organize YOUR OWN HealthCamp in YOUR town!! I challenge ANYONE to be fully involved in a day at HealthCamp and to leave simply cannot happen. I would like to thank the attendees, sponsors and organizers (Brenda, Joel & Tracy ROCKED!) of HealthCamp Florida- You have changed me forever, in ways that I likely don't fully understand, yet, and I thank you for that...NOW, if I could just remember how to un-hack my brain again.... ;-)

P.S- My MVP award is shared this time- The ever awesome orchestrator of operations, Maumi Chatterton with the HealthCamp Foundation and Shelby from KForce dynamic attention to detail helped set the tone for this event.  Joel, Brenda, Tracy and Mark- Kudos! Thanks for having us.