The Patient Expert: Healthcare’s Untapped Workforce

One of my favorite patient advocates consultants–that’s Kym Martin (far right) on a panel I ran at Health 2.0–has a new job at one of the most interesting patient consultant companies. Here’s her story!–Matthew Holt

Let me ask you two questions.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate the quality of the “real-world” patient insights your team gathers to inform your mission-critical, life-altering work?

Are you clear on the needs, trends, and challenges facing the patients you’re trying to serve?

Why Listen to Me?

For the past four years, I’ve listened to hundreds of healthcare leaders discuss patient issues from their perspective as clinicians, technologists, researchers, academics and administrators.

While I’m grateful to these leaders for working feverishly on my behalf as a patient, I question the completeness of their patient view.

The reason shouldn’t come as a surprise. Patients are too often left out of the conversations about the services and products designed to improve their care. Seldom are they invited to provide strategic insights that can shape the solutions designed on their behalf.

I’m one of too few patients who’s had opportunities to speak at industry events, such as Health 2.0. I’ve met with healthcare executives to strategically share my patient perspective and I’m honored to be recognized as one of fifteen Disruptive Women to Watch in Healthcare in 2015.

I’ve also sought to broaden how executives view patients like myself. We are typically thought of as advocates, not consultants.

It was Ross Martin, MD – my spouse and life partner – and the creative genius behind health IT videos, such as Gimme My Damn Data, who ultimately encouraged me to bring not just my patient perspective, but my professional skills to the industry.

The Patient Expert

Diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in my teens, melanoma in my 20s (and 30s!) and breast cancer in my 40s, I know more about early detection, treatment options, wellness practices and the lifelong issues of survivorship than I ever wanted to know.

That’s the kicker.

Patients are simply people experiencing health challenges that none of us ever choose to have.

We are people with professional skills and backgrounds that healthcare organizations could benefit from, but usually don’t.

Imagine how someone with my expertise in business development could help an organization design and market its oncology solutions or wellness products. In fact, one tech company I consulted for developed a mobile app, initially targeting oncology patients, that was so slick it was acquired by Apple.

Perhaps it’s time to rethink the role of patient experts.

What cool, creative or innovative patient-centered products and solutions is your organization designing, developing and marketing?

How’s it working out for you?

Are you leaping ahead of the competition, jogging alongside or falling behind?


My patient experience as a cancer survivor is a universal journey that represents the human side of healthcare. My evolution as a patient expert is one example among many.

There are legions of patient experts in our midst, representing hundreds of health conditions. They are eager to work alongside your team and within your organizations on a freelance consulting basis.

Not sure how to best partner with patient experts? Here are some examples of great project opportunities to consider:

  • Recruit, assemble and coordinate Patient Advisory Boards or Panels
  • Crowdsource consumer insights via quantitative surveys or qualitative interviews
  • Advise in the design, development, testing and implementation of tools, apps and services
  • Launch awareness campaigns to share valuable educational content, research findings, product or service announcements to targeted patient populations
  • Develop social media strategy, campaigns and content
  • Facilitate focus group discussions to help unearth patient insights from the participants
  • Speak at events to share key patient insights or moderate a patient panel
  • Advise organizations into new strategic areas of need for patient populations

If I’ve done my job, you now see the potential to benefit from healthcare’s untapped workforce and deliver even greater patient value. Like many of you, I help lead an organization committed to transforming care, quality, and outcomes for patients, families and future generations.

WEGO Health’s end goal is to unlock this untapped workforce and enable leaders like you to easily identify and hire “on-demand” freelance consultants. Let’s talk!

Kym Martin is VP, Client and Talent Strategy at WEGO Health. This post was originally posted on WEGO Health on Mar 8,2017

3 replies »

  1. I’m trying to get the docs to work with the patients, as their agents, to gain some political power–anti-trust would not apply–and fight for:

    1. clear and understandable hospital bills and ambulatory services bills.

    2. current ongoing explanations of diagnoses and interventions and status of bills and debts to hospital and hospitalists and pathologists/radiologists/in-hospital physicians. Viz. A running status report of everything happening to a patient

    3. Ditto with all ambulatory interventions in physician’s office and other out-patient facilities.

    We take so much money from patients, in the form of premia
    and oop, they deserve this keen and intelligent updating.

    4. fighting with patients to get reasonable charges for all goods and services.

  2. Query- A lot of us are old enough to also be patients, as are our spouses and friends. Should we ignore those in the field or close to it and opt to hear from those out of the field?