The Power of Conferences
Throughout my medical career, I have enjoyed attending medical conferences. Conferences are a great way to meet thought leaders, entertain new ideas, and get up-to-date on the latest advances in medical technology. Following a conference, I find I return to work with a new sense of purpose, energy, urgency, and passion.
Over the years, I have attended a lot of conferences. When I stop think to about it, however, none of these medical meetings have ever included patients. That will change this week as Dr. Joseph Salisz and I fly to Palo Alto, California, to present at a different kind of event – The Stanford Medicine X Conference – #MedX
Stanford Medicine X
Healthcare, as we all know, is rapidly changing. Now, and in the future, advances in healthcare will be driven, not only by physicians and researchers, but also by patients and innovators.
Stanford Medicine X is a patient-centered event focused on the future of technology, medicine and healthcare. The purpose of the event is to demonstrate how technology can be used, not only to improve the delivery of healthcare, but also to empower patients to be active participants in their own care.
Getting Personal – The Challenge of Living with an Ostomy
Dr. Salisz is my partner at West Shore Urology. He is also a prostate cancer survivor and an ostomate – a person who lives with an ostomy. An ostomy is a surgical procedure that literally creates a “detour” for body fluids to bypass a diseased organ.
The body fluids that pass through an ostomy, be they urine, intestinal contents or stool, are then collected and temporarily stored in a plastic ostomy bag.
Living with an ostomy, as you might imagine, comes with a variety of challenges, including getting adjusted to a variety of new sights, smells, sounds and sensations.
Overcoming Challenges with Technology
“As physicians, we think we know what it’s like to be a patient. However, it wasn’t until Dr. Salisz was left with a stoma that we began to think about and understand the day-to-day challenges of living with an ostomy.”
Dr. Salisz began exploring ways to make the ostomy experience better for himself and for other ostomy patients. Working with Pat Camp (a retired ostomy nurse), local manufacturers, and businessmen, together they designed a unique, carbon impregnated polyester ostomy bag cover that hides the contents of the ostomy bag, and masks the odor of the contents of the bag. The bag cover, now commercially available as StomaCloak, also helps absorb perspiration and moisture from around the ostomy bag, and feels pleasant against the skin.
Making an Impact
Over the years, we have learned that this technology can make a big difference in an ostomate’s quality of life.
Other times, the difference is seemingly smaller. Recently, we donated several of these ostomy bag covers to a Canadian youth camp for ostomates. One of the participants in the camp developed a leak in his ostomy appliance during a visit to the zoo. The StomaCloak contained the leak and the odor of the ostomy contents, and allowed the camper to continue his activity without having to stop and change his clothes. Personally, it’s these small victories, particularly for young people, that I enjoy hearing about most.
Sharing Our Experience
Making a positive difference in someone’s life is supposed to be what healthcare is all about. Our experience with StomaCloak has taught us that it is possible to make a difference in the lives of patients beyond what we traditionally provide in the office and operating room.
Our experience echoes the stated purpose of the Stanford Medicine X Conference, and we look forward to sharing with, and learning from, the ePatient community. When patients, physicians, nurses, innovators, and manufacturers come together, it is possible to make an ongoing difference in the lives of our patients and our friends.