9:20 - 9:40 amSaturday, September 6
LK 120
What healthcare can learn from Harley-Davidson
LK 120
What healthcare can learn from Harley-Davidson
VP Marketing, Edison Nation Medical
“Patient-centric care” is prolific term in healthcare, but what does it really mean? I conducted a survey recently with healthcare groups in LinkedIn asking, “How do you define patient-centric care?”... Read more


“Patient-centric care” is prolific term in healthcare, but what does it really mean? I conducted a survey recently with healthcare groups in LinkedIn asking, “How do you define patient-centric care?” My question resulted in nearly 250 responses and I believe the sheer volume reflects the ambiguity of the term (“patient-centric care” has been so over-used it no longer has singular meaning). More importantly, I believe the variance of responses reflects the vastly differing opinions that exist today about how best to deliver healthcare.

Earlier in my career, I spent 20+ years working for a number of Fortune 100 companies, including Harley-Davidson, Gap, Williams-Sonoma, and Visa to name a few. During this time, I came to deeply understand how emotional connections are forged with customers—connections that transcend the functional purchase and, at times, become almost irrational. In my time at Harley-Davidson, for example, I came to appreciate why someone would tattoo the brand’s name on his or her arm. When a customer purchases a Harley, they are not simply purchasing a way to get from Point A to Point B; rather, they are buying a tangible (and loud!) statement about their freedom and independence.

I have spent enough years in healthcare (both as a patient undergoing treatment for stage III cancer and as the Co-founder and Director of Center for Integrative Health & Wellness at Marin General Hospital)to experience the macro- and micro- economic forces which grossly distort the playing field within healthcare. These forces keep compassionate and clinically excellent physicians from providing a deeply emotional healing experience to their patients. And these forces keep patients – who have very strong opinions about what constitutes true healing – from having their voices heard.

A wise mentor once said, “A person can be healed and yet never be cured.” This is true. I have witnessed it with my own eyes, though I would also add “A person can be cured and yet never fully be healed” for, sadly, I have also witnessed that too many times. The vast majority of healthcare today is focused on executing the highest volume of functional procedures at the lowest possible cost. And while this might be the right thing to do from a bottom-line perspective, it is not always the right thing from a patient-centric, healing perspective.  

Tell us your definition of patient-centric care first!” wrote one of the respondents. A famous Harley-Davidson tagline reads: “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey.” For me, this sums up patient-centric care. When we as a healthcare ecosystem reach the point that as much time, money and attention is put into the prevention of and healing from disease, rather than simply the treatment and curing of symptoms, we will deliver an experience that touches people emotionally rather than just functionally. And when we combine that with also empowering the patient to have a voice in his/her own healthcare -- as we do at Edison Nation Medical -- we will truly begin to achieve “patient-centric care.”

Julie Wheelan leads the Edison Nation Medical team in formulating break-through creative ideas to inspire action on the part of inventors, to shape the evolution of the Edison Nation Medical brand, and to elevate the meaning of innovation within healthcare. She combines a keen understanding of how to forge deep emotional connections with consumers with hands-on experience in a range of marketing disciplines to craft compelling global marketing campaigns, including support for innovation searches we conduct regularly in partnership with leading healthcare companies.

Julie has 20+ years experience in leading game-changing marketing and brand strategy efforts for world-class consumer/retail brands such as Harley-Davidson, Gap, Williams-Sonoma, Jamba Juice and Visa. She bring exceptional international marketing and branding experience, including helping Harley-Davidson to establish its brand presence in the Asia-Pacific Region and managing international marketing for Gap and GapKids. Immediately before joining Edison Nation Medical, Julie co-founded, launched and directed the Center for Integrative Health & Wellness at Marin General Hospital (Northern CA), an experience she equates to "swimming through the tsunami." In addition to providing a much needed resource for the Marin community, the experience also provided Julie with deep insights into the challenges and opportunities that exist within healthcare.

Julie received her MBA from Kellogg Graduate School of Business (Northwestern University) and BA from Northwestern University.

Contact Us

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.

Not readable? Change text. captcha txt

Start typing and press Enter to search