2017 Conference

Lightning in a bottle: The power of commitments

The power of the brainstorm comes from the raw chaos of mental energy, colliding and taking on momentum of its own. It’s what happens when people think about possibilities instead of limitations. It’s the potential energy to change the world around us.

But it’s incomplete. In a recent podcast, Dr. Jordan Shlain talked about the problem with brainstorming sessions that don’t lead anywhere:

“I mean, like any storm, after the storm, there’s a lot of debris that you have to pick up and deal with. After a brainstorming session, it just creates work and there’s a lot of people that don’t want to go into those brainstorming sessions because they want to coast. I’m sick and tired of it.”

You may feel the same way about conferences – the power of connecting with others can leave you feeling hopeful, inspired, or energized – until you go back to your desk and resume business as usual.

By now, you’ve probably heard about What’s the Fix – an inaugural conference dedicated to the topic of patients making fixes in health care from the ground up (If you haven’t there’s plenty of time to catch up!). In addition to flipping the script and having patients and families leading the discussion, we wanted to do something different. We wanted to try and harness the energy of those dialogues and brainstorms and use it to change the world.

We’re going to try to capture lightning in a bottle.

Committing to Change


  • an agreement or pledge to do something in the future
  • something pledged
  • the state or an instance of being obligated or emotionally impelled

After some brainstorming of our own, we came up with an idea for conference attendees, in-person and virtual, to commit to one thing – just one tangible, actionable thing – that they can do to change health care in the days and weeks that follow the event.

Here’s how it will work: attendees will choose one of the following categories that capture their interests and motivations.

  • Patients and Caregivers can use their voices and stories to drive improvement.
  • Business Professionals who work at companies big and small can commit to bringing real patients and caregivers’ experiences into their workplace.
  • Health Care Workers and those on the front line of care can incorporate feedback and ideas from patients and caregivers back into the healthcare system

And of course, we’ll have a blank category for people to choose their own adventure.

We’ll provide attendees with different examples of commitments that people might make – and more importantly, encourage them to meet and mingle with other folks to come up with their own ideas for actions and activities they can commit to.

For some, this might be small and simple – just talking with, and really listening to someone living with an injury or illness, or someone caring for a patient. Others might decide to commit to write up a blog post for their local doctor’s office, or share a story on social media or in their local newspaper. For others, such as those who work have a job working at a tech company or a consulting firm, it could be more involved and strategic, such as convening a patient focus group, or hosting a lunch and learn, to broadcast the power of patients’ stories into the office.

We may be idealistic, but we’re not naive: We know that no one person can make all of the changes that need to be made, however inspired and charged up they may be. Rather, our goal is to push people to take a micro-action during the event – the simple act of writing down a commitment –  that can develop into something that might impact another person.

And whether or not you believe in the butterfly effect, you can expect a flutter of serious tweeting. We’ll be helping participants share their commitments online, and making it easy for our online attendees to participate as well. We’ll also be introducing a novel way for people to stay plugged in with us after the conference – using good old-fashioned pen and paper – to help keep their commitments from fading away.

Together, We Go Further

We’re also excited to announce a new partnership with WEGO Health to help kick things up a notch for participants who are more ambitious about driving change.

WEGO Health is a one-of-a-kind organization that helps companies work directly with patients to help bring their perspectives into practice, products, and programs. Beyond supporting the mission of patient-centered care, WEGO Health is built on the premise that patients are more than just tokens – they’re people with skill, influence, and experience.

In WEGO Health, we feel like we found a true partner – an organization dedicated to “walking the walk.” They represent the perfect teammate to grab the baton – to help WTFix attendees go one step further and actually execute on the ideas they come up with at the event.

In our collaboration at WTFix, WEGO Health will help patients sign up to make a difference on their own terms, in ways small or large. Importantly, they also bring a track record of helping organizations find and recruit real-world experts to make their businesses run better. We’re talking about things like convening patient advisory boards, testing and design for new products, supporting marketing campaigns, and much more.

Stay tuned for more details on the partnership. If you haven’t done so already, make sure to register to attend online (free!). And of course, make sure to share your stories and perspectives with us on social media: #WTFix and #whatthehealthcare.