Countdown to #HealtheVoices17

It's that time of year again!! I'm so excited and I honestly only get excited for one event of the year as much as this and that energy is reserved for Thanksgiving. I guess you can equate these as the same since I am TRULY thankful for my attendance, participation, and opportunity to experience this.

So, last year I got to have this amazing experience with health bloggers and social media experts from all over the nation. Around 80 of us gathered in downtown Chicago for #HealtheVoices16 and I can tell you it was nothing I expected. You can read about it here.

Now, I'm here to write about #HealtheVoices17 and from an even more cool and different perspective. I have had the honor of working as an advisory panelist AND a presenter to help plan the conference and offer input on what will make this year one to remember in providing skills and resources to health bloggers and social media experts again. I mean, it's no coincidence that someone with a grassroots organization called emPOWERed Legacies, works to help empower patients, #amirite?

So, in case you didn't feel like clicking on the link to my other blog and opening another tab (I have multipletabitis, so I understand), here's the rundown:

What: HealtheVoices - conference designed and built to meaningfully empower and develop leaders in patient advocacy across the nation and various health conditions. This year's theme "Together We Thrive" stems from last year's theme of "Deeply Rooted" where bonds and connections were formed that stretched across health issues, personal experiences and varied diagnoses to unite the participants in a collective experience of empowerment. This year we will show the various and powerful ways that we thrive through all of our health conditions even more so than last year since a LOT of the sessions were planned by and led by the patient advocates (the experienced experts) themselves!

Who: Johnson & Johnson's medical branch, Janssen Pharmeceuticals, Inc. and other organizations (listed below) sponsor this impactful and innovative event

When: April 20th* - April 23rd
*The official conference begins on the 21st, but the day before, small groups of advocates from specific health conditions will meet for a pre-conference summit to kick off their experience. It's going to be a family reunion for the #HIV tribe! I cannot wait! 

Where: Swissotel Hotel in Chicago, IL

Why: In case this isn't emphasized enough, this conference is a gathering of health patients that are experts and advocates in their field of health condition. These conditions range from Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Psoriasis, HIV, Mental Health, Type 1 & 2 Diabetes, to Breast Cancer, Alzheimer's Disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Heart Disease, and Multiple Sclerosis (and more). This is an opportunity for the patients of these conditions to gather with other patients that utilize social media to advocate for their community and be a "healthy voice" to inform, motivate, and connect about the ins and outs of their health.

Don't be misled, these advocates aren't just posting and sharing scientific data, which is a strong and useful component to understanding health conditions and how they impact any community, but these are movers and shakers, mothers, daughters, husbands, fathers, athletes, teachers, wonder women and supermen all trying to navigate life and live it to the fullest. They give you a glimpse into their life, what wakes them everyday, what lifts them up to speak out, what carries them through their diagnosis and demonstrate what living really looks like. I want to share these individuals with you, but since I don't have permission just yet, follow #HealthEvoices17 and you will meet them through their social media as they post.

When we gather this weekend, we will be speaking with one another, learning from each other and channeling the collective energy that medical and science professionals need to continue making the advances they have in improving our health. To me, this conference is an exclusive opportunity to put a spot light on the issues that we face as patient advocates. Some of those issue topics are:

  • Maintaining privacy while being a go-to person on social media
  • Dealing with stigma
  • Energy management
  • Using data to be effective in social media
  • and much, much more!
There will also be moments for fun, connection, networking and relaxation. This year will be the first ever Open Mic night where patient advocates will get to express themselves through their talents as well as group dinners where we will fellowship and break bread and getting to know one another better. It's going to be fun on epic proportions and I cannot wait. 

You'd think as excited as I am I would have started packing by now, right? 

Feeling left out? Have symptoms of FOMO? If you couldn't be a part of the in-person experience of HealtheVoices, fret not because participants will be live streaming the sessions and you can definitely follow the hashtag #HealtheVoices17 through all social media platforms as well as directly from @healthevoices accounts.

Thank you again to Janssen and supporting sponsors FacebookhealthlineWebMDWEGOHealthWisdo, and YouTube for making this experience such an enriching one for all participants. Thank you for setting the bar for health companies to meaninfully value patients for their experiences and give them a platform to magnify their voices. 

Now, time to go pack!