January 17, 2012
In the company of the brave
I wandered through the crowded reception hall. It was one of those social mixers, an after
hours HIT conference reception. The room
was dimly lit and wine glimmered ruby-red through champagne flutes.
I almost bumped into the man.
He was tall and clean cut. His nametag clearly stated that he worked for an EMR company. I engaged with him in small talk; then he
cocked his head to one side and said he thought he had heard of me. I mentioned that I was not surprised as I had
been speaking about the patient role in HIT adoption for the past two
But I had not spoken before his company.
I have spoken before hospitals, government agencies and EMR
vendors. Indeed, I have spoken before Cerner, not once, but three times. The
first speech I delivered away from my native Washington, D.C., I delivered in Kansas City at
Cerner headquarters. They invited me to speak for over an hour based on five
minutes of my testimony on Meaningful Use. That was rather brave. I could be
called a “loose cannon,” an activist with no comforting ties to a non-profit or
health care agency.
But Cerner gave me the stage, and then posted
my speech on YouTube for the entire world to see. For the past two years that
I have been speaking and painting, I have heard many positive comments about
Cerner. When I hear these comments, I tweet about them to @Cerner, and @Cerner rapidly responds.
When I asked Clay Patterson and David Sides to consider joining the Walking
Gallery, they did. When Cerner saw an opportunity to actively engage the
population surrounding Kansas City in a healthy living weight loss challenge,
programming teams worked around the clock to make the KC
Slimdown Challenge a reality.
I have been in a room filled with CMIOs and knew just as
much about their Cerner system as they did, because the folks at Cerner showed
the features to me. I may only be a patient speaker and artist but I was
treated as a valuable sounding board in every interaction with Cerner staff.
All these things I told the tall, clean-cut man whilst he
looked down at me with a bemused smile.
No, I have never spoken before his company.
I have spoken before Cerner. They invited me. I am glad they did.
Regina Holliday is a
DC-based patient rights arts advocate. Regina began painting a series of murals
depicting the need for clarity and transparency in medical records. This
advocacy mission was inspired by her husband Frederick Allen Holliday II and
his struggle to get appropriate care during 11 weeks of continuous
hospitalization at 5 facilities. After his death resulting from kidney cancer
on June 17, 2009, she began painting a mural entitled “73 cents." It
depicts the Holliday family’s journey through the medical system. Regina also
paints on canvas at medical conferences throughout the US. She paints the
concepts discussed and presents them through a patient’s view. She also began
an advocacy movement called “The Walking Gallery.” The Gallery consists of
artists, medical providers, technicians and advocates who wear patient-centered
care paintings on the backs of business suits. Regina is a 2011-2012 Fellow
with TMIT: She will appear in the upcoming Safety Leaders/Discovery Chanel
documentary: “Out of the Danger Zone” and is part of the creative team working
on The Patient Speakers Portal.