Who is perfect? Advocacy ads for real people.

Jane Sarasohn-Kahn

What is the nature of disability? What is the nature of beauty? What is perfection? Who among us is perfect?

These questions are at the heart (literally and figuratively) of a project undertaken by Pro Infirmis, a Switzerland-based advocacy organization raising awareness of people with disabilities, promoting the International Day of Persons with Disabilities in December 2013.

Pro-Infirmis-Mannequins-and-People-300x188Mannequins in fashionable shops on Zurich’s tony street the Bahnhofstrasse were replaced by new ones, artfully, painstakingly and lovingly created, as shown in the video.

Pro Infirmis’s website tells us “who” we are looking at in human and 3-D life-size mannequin form: Miss Handicap 2010, Jasmin Rechsteiner; radio presenter and film critic Alex Oberholzer; track and field athlete Urs Kolly; blogger Nadja Schmid; and, actor Erwin Aljukic.

In Pro Infirmis’s words: Between the perfect mannequins, there will be figures with scoliosis or brittle bone disease modelling the latest fashions. One will have shortened limbs; the other a malformed spine. (more…)

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Sex and the Sleepless Night

Jess Ladd Talking PicI want to make sex better.

That’s what gets me up in the morning. Part of making sex better is doing what I can to eradicate sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).  I particularly focus on chlamydia and gonorrhea because I consider these really stupid infections. It’s crazy that they still exist. We know how to prevent them (condoms) and how to diagnose them (very specific and sensitive tests). We can completely cure these STDs. So then, why do these diseases infect over 3 million new Americans every year, half of whom are ages 15-25? (more…)

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Health Datapalooza: Collaboration for innovation

Health Datapalooza IV just wrapped up here in Washington, DC, and we’ve been following it closely, both as a media partner and as an interested spectator. For those of you who are just learning about it, Health Datapalooza is an annual conference featuring innovations in the use of health data and advocating for open data to spur future innovations and improve health care. It’s organized by the Health Data Consortium, a collaboration of government, non-profit, and private sector organizations working to liberate health data and put it to good use.

The panels and break-out sessions were informative, and gave a good sense of why open data is important and how it’s currently being used for consumer engagement, better health outcomes, and more. But the real stars of the show were the start-ups and innovators who were there to participate in various challenges. That is, after all, what open data is all about; once you get it, how do you use it? (more…)

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Patients as brand, advocates

Regina Holliday

I love earPlanes.

Do you know what I am talking about?  earPlanes are these little earplugs that were created by Cirrus Healthcare products to reduce ear pain when flying.  The device consists of a silicone earplug and a ceramic pressure regulator.  As a frequent flyer, I use them on every flight. They cost $8.00 a pair and are worth every penny.

Before I found out about these nifty little things, I was suffering frequent ear infections post flight and could not hear very well due to ears that would not “pop” for days.  This was quite a problem.  It is hard to speak well if you cannot hear well.  Also as a person with high co-pays and no prescription coverage treating the subsequent ear infections was getting to be quite expensive.

I posted my problem on Facebook and one of my friends alerted me to the wonder that is earPlanes.  I admit I was somewhat disappointed that my doctor never suggested such an affordable preventive option.  (By that point I already spent over 500 dollars on my air flight-induced ear infections.)  Perhaps she did not know about this option, so I am blogging about it in the hope that fellow travelers can have a less painful journey.

If you read the above paragraphs you might realize why I am writing about earPlanes is not to help Cirrus Healthcare Products.  (more…)

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Outsourcing relationships and peddling influence: Why social media is not fun anymore

Val Jones, MD

When I first started blogging in 2006, the medical blogosphere consisted of a small group of physicians, nurses, and patient advocates. We knew each other well, and spent time each day visiting our favorite blogs and posting personal comments of encouragement and insight. We developed real friendships, and were optimistic about our brave new online writing frontier. We thought we could change the healthcare system for the better, we believed that our perspectives could influence policy, and we were sure that our writing could help our patients lead healthier lives.

I remember with great fondness the medical blogger conference that I attended in Las Vegas in 2009. It was the first time I’d met most of my blog friends in real life (IRL) – it was like seeing your favorite pen pals after years of correspondence. We talked all night, had marveled at how a love of writing had brought together a surgeon from South Africa, an ER nurse from California, and a Canadian rehab physician, among others. We figured that social media was the glue that held us all together. Since then, I am sad to say that for me, the glue has lost its stickiness due to dilution by third parties and a glut of poor quality content dividing attentions and exhausting our brains’ filter system. (more…)

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Regina Holliday and the Partnership With Patients conference

Whitney Bowman-Zatzkin

Disruptive Woman Regina Holliday is often lauded by the patient advocacy community as the Rosa Parks of patient care. With her own patient and caregiver experiences tucked in her heart pocket, she travels globally to present her message of patient empowerment and inclusion in health care decision making, health records, and care plan discovery. Fearlessly she stands before officials, practitioners, and others to demand a thoughtful dialog on the role of patients in their own health care. In her own words, “Being a thought leader in social media takes a lot of work, but you can do amazing things.” (more…)

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See you at BlogHer!

Robin Strongin

I’m proud to announce that I will be taking part in a panel tomorrow at BlogHer ’12, a conference bringing together women at the forefront of social media and online networking. I will be discussing “Self Care and Social Health: How Online Community Can Improve Offline Health.”

This is a topic near and dear to my heart. When I created Disruptive Women in Health Care, I had in mind to start more than a blog – I wanted it to be an online community, bringing together thought leaders and influencers from different fields and sectors and providing them with a place to discuss, debate and collaborate. (more…)

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2012 DC Health Data + Innovation Week a Success!

By Andre Blackman. Remember when we said that you shouldn’t miss 2012 DC Health Data + Innovation Week? Well, we weren’t playing around! The past several days at the “epicenter of health innovation” as our friend Ted Eytan would put it, will go down in the history books. With data scientists, health/medical professionals and technologists literally coming from different parts of the globe to tackle health innovation, the movement began to feel even more real.

Kicking off the week was the Health 2.0 Code-A-Thon at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Total Health, which brought together coders to make an impact in the fight against obesity in the country. With great discussions led by local visionaries including Alisa Hughley of enBloom Media, the teams got to work to build meaningful platforms to address issues around food and physical activity. The best thing about the code-a-thon event is that something is actually built and ready to be used right afterward! Here’s some thoughts on the weekend from the Center for Total Health’s blog:

While the judging was close, the Healthy Plate team came in second (for a prize of $3,000), and the School Fit team took top honors—and $4,000—for its app that addressed the childhood obesity epidemic by building transparency.  School Fit’s app combined ranking school fitness levels with location information, really targeting the issue of obesity via civic, educational, social and family connections.  Check out photos from the two-day event here, and for a thoughtful perspective on the Code-a-Thon process, take a look at these two blog posts from Ted Eytan, MD.  Alex Howard Storified the weekend, too—you can see a social media snapshot of the event right here.


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Got Plans for the June 2nd – 7th? You Do NOW!

By Andre Blackman. It’s no secret that things are moving full speed ahead as far as the amount of ideas, projects, people and organizations making much needed changes in the health landscape. It’s also true that one of the epicenters of change in health care, Washington DC, will be hosting another jam packed week of inspiring events that capture the health innovation vibe. This week of events has become known as – DC Health Data & Innovation Week!

The week is built around the annual Health Data Initiative Summit (also known as the Health Datapalooza), where companies and government agencies demonstrate/emphasize the power of unleashing big data to help solve some of the most pertinent issues within health care. This year, leaders such as national CTO, Todd Park, Secretary of Health Kathleen Sebelius and Thomas Goetz, will take the stage to moderate and speak about the impact of data on the future of health. See how it all target=”_blank”>kicked off here 2 years ago (yes – it’s over an hour).

This year the week will be launched with a weekend of technologists building health apps from supplied data sets at the infamous Health 2.0 Code-A-Thon. Health Innovation Week continues with the local community digging deep into ideas for the future of health at the all day HealthCampDC event, which will then be followed by The Walking Gallery social. If you aren’t familiar with the Walking Gallery or the wonderful Disruptive Woman Regina Holliday, this event will get you up to speed with the empowered patient movement and the mix of storytelling and art. These events will be sponsored by Disruptive Women in Health Care!

More fantastic activities are taking place during this first week in June – we encourage you to check out the brand new website for the latest information and the other events. Here’s a few more reasons why you should come out to DC Health Data + Innovation Week:

  • Fantastic opportunities to learn about cutting edge innovations and the organizations leading the way to a brighter, healthier future (Massive Health, HHS, Kaiser Permanente, Sapient, and more)
  • Networking with colleagues and making new connections with the people making a difference in health care
  • Opportunity to put on independent events during the week to take advantage of the brilliant minds in town
  • Last but not least, the team at Massive Health – a new health tech startup, is interested in hearing what YOU would come up with if you could harness the power of health data for your community. With your thoughts on the blog post, you could win one of the beautifully designed Massive Health t-shirts!

Looking forward to seeing you at DC Health Data + Innovation Week next month! If you have any questions, feel free to contact the team!

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A Representation of Miss Representation

By Carrie Winans. At Disruptive Women, we examine many issues that are troubling in today’s world.  However, we occasionally will come across an issue that shakes enough to really create some disruption.  Jennifer Newsom’s film Miss Representation demonstrated that the current status quo for women is not acceptable in today’s society.

As Disruptive Women in Health Care founder and creator Robin Strongin explained introducing the film, “My daughter sent this to me and said ‘I’m okay, but you’re not about to be.’ That’s how I knew this was going to be big.”

What makes a woman want to change the status quo? First, a woman has to find a problem that shakes her enough to make her disruptive. Jennifer Newsom, a filmmaker, actress, women’s advocate and mother realized she wanted to change an issue that had always disturbed her. When pregnant with her daughter, Nielson knew it was her time to change the world for the benefit of her daughter, and women everywhere.

Panelists Jennifer Siebel Newsom, the film's creator/producer, and Janice Kovach, mayor of Clinton, NJ, discuss the film and the way that the media's portrayal on women has affected them personally as well as professionally.

As an actress, Newsom is no stranger to the portrayal of women in the media. Through personal experiences and by watching reality television and advertisements, she quickly concluded that the media spent a large majority of time focusing on women’s youth, beauty and sexuality rather than intelligence, talents and gifts.

“The media is this huge pedagogical force of communication — it’s dictating our cultural values and our gender norms. And it’s doing it in such a way that it’s communicating to us that a woman’s value is limited,” Newsom told the Huffington Post.

“I witnessed the sexism that was directed at Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton in the 2008 presidential election and I made a connection between the misrepresentations of women in the media, which I’d already witnessed in Hollywood, and the underrepresentation of women in leadership,” she elaborated to Vogue Magazine.

With these ideas in mind, Newsom set forth to make a documentary that would raise awareness about the portrayal of women in the media and inequality between genders within the United States. The documentary, entitled ” target=”_blank”>Miss Representation, focuses in on the keys issue of gender portrayal through interviews with teenage girls, prominent male leaders and some very impressive female politicians and celebrities. Condoleezza Rice, Lisa Ling, Nancy Pelosi, Katie Couric, Rachel Maddow, Rosario Dawson, Jackson Katz, Jean Kilbourne and Gloria Steinem, to name a few, are all featured in the film as examples of powerful women who have been disparaged, sexualized or otherwise misrepresented by the mainstream media. (more…)

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Health Care News Roundup

By Carrie Winans

The Disruptive Women in Health Care blog continually aims to encourage discussion and debate among readers about emerging issues and topics in the health care world. Historically, one of the ways that we have done that is through our weekly round-ups – that is, posts containing summaries and links to some of the big stories in health care news for the given week, with some original commentary and content sprinkled in as well. The way we see it, there is just too much happening in this burgeoning industry; it’s hard to keep up, especially when you’re busy disrupting and making headlines in the health care world yourselves. We know the weekly round-ups have been on hiatus for a while, but are happy to report that they’re finally making a comeback. Each week, we’ll be gathering some of the biggest health care news you can use from at home and abroad for posting on Wednesdays. Feel free to comment on what’s included and send us some links to articles to be considered for next week!

Has your week been too disruptive for you to keep up with the news?  Disruptive Women are on the case!  Here is this week’s round up of some of the most pressing issues here in America and around the world.


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Dr. Jonathan Gruber, Heroically Simplifying Health Care

Gruber, director of the Health Care Program at the National Bureau of Economic Research, explains the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in comic book format

Millions of Americans disapprove of the Affordable Care Act without understanding what the act aims to accomplish or how it works.  Dr. Jonathan Gruber’s book “Health Care Reform:  What It Is, Why It’s Necessary, How It Works” breaks down the individual components of the act in order to give Americans a greater understanding of what all it includes and how its provisions will affect their daily lives.  Gruber discussed the book, ACA and the future of health care reform in the United States with an audience at Disruptive Women in Washington, DC last night.

Continue reading here


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Disruptive Women Celebrates 3 Years of Blogging With a HIP New Initiative

Robin Strongin

By Robin Strongin.  Three years ago, in September 2008, Disruptive Women in Health Care launched with an exciting program at the National Press Club (take a look at our media page to see what we had to say at the time.)

I know, I know it’s October…but hey, we are disruptive so celebrating on the exact day seems so well, ordinary.  And the past three years have been anything but ordinary.  We all had something to say about the new health reform debate and ultimate passage.  We still have much to say about the new law, as well as a multitude of other topics.

One area that I have been thinking a lot about is the exploding area of mhealth (mobile health), remote monitoring, and telehealth.  Technology alone is not the answer of course.  But technology, coupled with innovative care delivery models (think health reform), and patients, caregivers and clinicians more comfortable with smartphones, apps, data sharing and online connectivity have all contributed to a new framework of health and wellness.  Aging in Place, staying connected, eICUs, PHRs and EHRs.  Exciting stuff.

But, like most solutions in health care, success must look beyond the health sector.  Here’s what I mean by that: staying healthy can’t just take place in a health setting or even in your home.  Maintaining your health and wellness or managing your chronic disease or disability requires a connection where ever you are — in other words, Health In Place.  Young people with epilepsy and diabetes still attend school, go on vacation and use public transportation.  Elderly individuals aging in place still travel to visit gradnchildren. And, adults maintaining exercise and nutrition regimens who travel for work need to stay connected to maintain wellness.  The Health In Place concept takes this broad view and will be bringing together thought leaders from not only the health field, but the telecom, travel, automobile and real estate sectors as well. 

The organizers of the 2011 mHealth Summit were so taken with this idea that they invited Disruptive Women to launch the Health In Place or HIP initiative with a reception on December 6th–we couldn’t be more thrilled or more flattered. So SAVE THE DATE:


Health In Place (HIP)™ — Disruptive Women in Health Care is Launching a New Initiative

Tuesday, December 6, 2011, 5:00–7:00 PM
Location: Pose Ultra Lounge & Nightclub–at the Gaylord Hotel in National Harbor (Washington DC)

Overview: The concept of Health In Place™ is built around the idea that our homes are more than just homes, our offices are more than just workplaces, our schools are more than just places of learning, and even our cars are more than just modes of transportation. Thanks to wireless communications and emerging technologies, each of these venues has become potential health and wellness centers or HIP. No matter where we are or what we’re doing, we can be protecting and enhancing our well-being. For this facet of 21st century health care to achieve its full potential — for more Americans to have the tools to link to their caregivers, to protect against and manage illness, while monitoring their well-being — a number of public policy issues are involved, cutting across multiple disciplines from health care regulations and benefit structures to tax policy to technology incentives. That’s why Amplify Public Affairs and the Disruptive Women in Health Care® blog (along with our media partenr, The Hill) have formed the Health In Place™ Initiative — to bring together policymakers and change agents from multiple industries.

 Please join us as we unveil this new initiative.


  • Robin Strongin, President & CEO, Amplify Public Affairs & Creator, Disruptive Women in Health Care — Moderator
  • John Marttila, President, Marttila Strategies (a national polling expert)
  • John C. (Jack) Lewin, MD, Chief Executive Officer, American College of Cardiology
  • Pamela Cipriano, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN, Professor, University of Virginia School of Nursing, Editor-in-Chief, American Nurse Today, 2010-11 Institute of Medicine Nurse Scholar-In-Residence (and a Disruptive Woman blogger)
  • Halle Tecco, Founder & Managing Director of Rock Health (and a Disruptive Woman blogger)

Stay tuned for more information.  And by all means, please come out on December 6th and celebrate with us.

At three years of age, we are not only Disruptive, we are also HIP.

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“The Help” helps shed light on God-Politics and the Poor

Rozalynn Goodwin

By Rozalynn Goodwin. Everyone seems to be quoting and tweeting the tender line of Miss Aibileen in “The Help”, “You is kiiiind. You is smaaaart. You is important.”

But there was another line in the blockbuster movie that moved me even more. I heard it and the heavens seemed to open. The light bulb came on.

Hilly Holbrook’s new maid is $75 short on one of the college tuitions for her twin sons and asks Hilly and her husband for a loan so she doesn’t have to choose which son should go to college. Doing the ‘Christian thing,’ Hilly refuses, “God does not give charity to those who are well and able.”

Twelve simple words from a fictional 1960’s character summed up our nation’s current political will regarding the poor. And allow me to condense this into just one word: selfishness.

We movie-goers were quick to see the bigotry in Hilly’s statement. The maid and her husband had been saving money from their meager wages for a long time and she wasn’t seeking a hand-out, but a loan she would pay off with her thankless labor. But I was also quick to see the hipocracy in those of us who identify ourselves as Christians regarding the poor–many like this maid are in temporarily tight spots by no fault of their own. I was convicted by the thought that a selfish Christian is just as much of an oxymoron as a Christian murderer. (more…)

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New study finds online health programs incorporating social media tools more effective

Yesterday, Healthcare IT News reported that a study due out later this month found that the addition of social media tools to online health programs seemed to positively influence the effectiveness of the programs. The study, which is being published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, found that “adding an interactive online community to an Internet-based walking program significantly decreased the number of participants who dropped out.” This is just the latest in eHealth innovations – from mobile health apps to electronic medical records and so, so, so much more – leaving the medical community wondering how eHealth will fare moving forward.

How do you feel about health-related social networking? Would you join an online health program? What concerns – privacy, quality of service, etc. – do you think this presents?

Read the full text of the Healthcare IT News post here: http://healthcareitnews.com/news/social-media-tools-may-reduce-attrition-online-health-programs

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