When his mother fell gravely ill and had to be hospitalized several years ago, Bassam Kadry, MD, an anesthesiologist at Stanford, gained an entirely new perspective on the health-care system.
Stepping into the role of caregiver, Kadry stayed in the hospital with his mother and found himself on the opposite side of the cadre of doctors and nurses responsible for his mother’s medical treatment. He watched as the physicians followed their usual protocols and policies and anxiously waited for orders to be punched into a computer and processed before his mother received the necessary medications.
“One of the things that struck me was how technology can be dangerous for patients. I’m a big proponent of technology, but when it’s not designed well or doctors give it too much weight, then it can do more harm than good,” said Kadry, who serves as director of technology discovery for Stanford Medicine X. “Even as a physician I felt powerless. I was afraid, sad, and frustrated.”
The experience left a lasting impression on Kadry. In exploring opportunities to make a difference for patients, he turned to his family foundation. Originally created to address humanitarian efforts in crisis hotspots around the globe, the Kadry Foundation primarily funds aid relief projects with a health-care focus. “Often we are faced with difficult situations and we feel that we don’t have any control over the things that affect the people we love the most,” said Kadry. “One of the easiest things that you can do is give whatever you have to address the causes you believe in. Giving not only supports those in difficult situations, but is rewarding for donors as well and helps them cope.”
In an effort to amplify the patient voice, the Kadry Foundation generously sponsored scholarships for patients traveling to Medicine X 2012. The foundation continued its support for 2013 and is once again providing scholarships for patients to travel to Stanford in September for the conference.
“The goal was to help patients to come to the conference so they could share their story with the greater health-care community and have a seat at the table in the discussion about how emerging technologies can improve the practice of medicine,” explains Kadry. “The Medicine X ePatient scholars have a unique clinical experience and their voice is essential to the ongoing dialogue about developing new health-care solutions.”
During last year’s conference, Kadry spoke with some of the patients in attendance and recalls being moved by their stories of frustrating encounters with physicians, as well as impressed by their drive and motivation to ignite change.
“Some of the discussions were very difficult. As a physician, it was hard to not feel that I was somehow part of the problem. I wanted to find ways to address the issues raised but soon realized that driving change is not going to be easy. The current system has many competing priorities that unfortunately drown out the most important priority of all-the patient’s voice,” he said. “For this reason, it was important for the foundation to continue it’s commitment in eliminating the barrier of travel costs for patients to attend Medicine X. We need more dialogue across an interdisciplinary group of health-care stakeholders to inspire people to think differently about the challenges facing the industry with the patient at the center of it all.”
Each year Stanford Medicine X reserves 10 percent of conference seats for patients. Conference Executive Director Lawrence Chu, MD, announced the selection of this year’s ePatient scholars earlier this year. Travel scholarships are provided on a need basis.