Summary Released! 2023 Science of Patient Engagement Symposium: “Patient Empowerment in The Digital Health Era”

By: The NHC’s Research & Program’s Team

Thank you to those who joined us at the National Health Council’s (NHC’s) 2023 Science of Patient Engagement Symposium, held in person on May 8, at the historic National Press Club in Washington, DC! This year’s Symposium brought together more than 150 health care leaders to discuss the impact of recent innovations in digital health on patient engagement and health equity. The 2023 Symposium demonstrated the importance of being intentional in the inclusion of underrepresented voices and bringing in patient-centered design in digital health to move the needle forward in providing quality care for all.

The Symposium was kicked off by Dr. Robert M. Califf, Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Dr. Califf noted that one of the most important aspects of the work of the FDA is to incorporate the perspectives and experiences of patients to make sure the evidence reflects what matters most to, and is most effective for, patients and their caregivers. Dr. Califf also highlighted other areas of concern including mortality disparities, representativeness, algorithmic bias, large language model regulation, and misinformation. The Commissioner concluded his remarks by stressing the need for everyone to put in place policies and tools and adaptively align digital health efforts to support public health and regulatory innovation.

Speakers for other sessions included patients, representatives from the Brookings Institution, the National Health IT Collaborative for the Underserved, Google Health, Harvard Medical School, Howard University, the American Heart Association, and MITRE. While the Symposium sessions discussed various aspects of digital health, innovation, and equity several common themes emerged:

  • Digital innovations are fueling hope, but optimizing the full value of their potential requires active engagement of patients at every step.
  • The ability of AI to mitigate inequities in health care is entirely dependent upon the quality of data collected to support such programming.
  • Every member of the health care ecosystem must better understand the need for privacy and security, determine who really owns data, and create appropriate operating principles around that.
  • A collective dedication to patient centeredness and giving patients agency is more critical now than ever.

Mark your calendars! The 2024 Symposium will take place on May 8 – 9, 2023 at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.

You can find the individual session videos from this meeting, and read the whole summary for the event here.