By Gilbert Salinas, M.P.A., Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center and Los Angeles County Department of Health Services

Before you settle in to read this blog post, do me a favor and check your smartphone. Are you tracking your steps? Fitbit recommends10,000 steps a day. Are you going to hit that? I’ll check mine, too. It’s evening as I write this and…my app has recorded zero steps.

But that’s not because I lead an unusually sedentary lifestyle. Today, I actually speed pushed over two miles before going to work, pushed to and from my car, rounded on patients and went to the market after work. The reason I have zero steps logged is because the app can’t track my movement in my wheelchair.

I share this example to illustrate the critical aspect of the patient perspective. While technology does hold a lot of potential for improving health outcomes and the patient experience – even for transforming health care as we know it –it can’t do any of that without considering the patient. When you have a goal as big as transforming health care, you need all of the help you can get.

As a former community advocate working on violence prevention, I am all too familiar with the common disconnect between health care and the rest of the world. When I made the switch to health care about 10 years ago, I found myself continually bringing community aspects into the discussion. We must consider the experiences of our patients, where they play, pray and live. I don’t think we can be effective without that holistic perspective.

That’s why I’m looking forward to attending Concordium early next month where people from across diverse sectors will gather to talk about how data and knowledge can transform health care. When I attended and spoke at the inaugural Concordium meeting last year, I was struck by the variety of perspectives invited and welcomed during the conference and the creative energy that resulted.

I found myself attending sessions with physicians using electronic medical records in innovative ways to help their patients, informatics experts talking about predictive analyses, and policy works highlighting challenges and solutions to issues like patient privacy. In between sessions, I would get caught up in conversations in the hallway with people such as a developer working on a new app to increase health literacy or a fellow patient opening up to share tips and advice related to my own health journey. It was unlike many other meetings I’d attended where people are segregated by area of expertise.

The best part was that these relationships and connections extended beyond the confines of the conference center. After the meeting, I was invited to help new colleagues I met at the meeting as they worked on a national strategy to connect information systems and access integrated data from different sectors to improve communities’ capacity to improve health. This wasn’t just feel-good networking; this was real action. I’m looking forward to see what will come out of this year’s meeting.

With health care changing faster than ever, we need to be sure we’re not leaving anyone behind. We need more opportunities like Concordium, where we bring diverse perspectives together to think critically about how we collect data, how we use data, and how we work to continually improve that process. We need everyone at the table for this discussion so that we can hold each other accountable to the high standard of improving health and health care for everyone.

I hope I’ll see you there as well. There is still time to register. We can compare our fitness apps in between sessions. I’ve found some good ones that accurately track my activity, so come prepared!

Gilbert Salinas is the Chief Clinical Officer at Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center (RLANRC), as well as the interim Director of Performance Improvement for Los Angeles County Department of Health Services (LA DHS). He also serves on the Concordium Advisory Committee and is a speaker at Concordium 2016.

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