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My painting teacher, Wes Sherman, calls himself a conservator. He shares paintings, pictures, and tidbits of art history with special attention to artists that inspire him. I learned so much from a year of tidbits shared on Instagram

As I was driving back from the SPM 2019 conference in Boston, I realized how much I liked to hang out with “conservators” – to learn the history of places, people and organizations I love. It puts everything in context for me. I think SPM’s e-Patient Dave deBronkart and Gilles Frydman are conservators too. 

I have been following the SPM alongside e-Patient Dave and, through his blog posts, speeches and in casual conversation, he generously shared what he learned. I happily absorbed it to share with the world. My first world was the SPM membership and followers, then my students at TCNJ, and, more recently, my neighborhood in Woodbridge, NJ. 

Alongside e-Patient Dave, Gilles Frydman shared the history and made sure we keep sailing along the right trail. Gilles is now taking awesome pictures in Colombia, Canada, Paris, and the US, but he was an integral part of SPM’s history since it started. 

In time, people forget or move on, websites get redesigned and lose hyperlinks, books, and articles get forgotten in libraries and on dusty bookshelves. Someone needs to occasionally recall history. It’s my turn now. 

I have been intrigued by the young Dr. Tom Ferguson who envisioned what patients can do with the Internet, defined the possibilities of electronic health records and surrounded himself with bright people that would strive to help others as soon as the Internet emerged. 

The Society for Participatory Medicine’s leaders are not talking that much about themselves. You probably met some of them at conferences and this is how you landed on this blog. But on the SPM communication channels, you don’t hear much about them. Some people don’t even know that there is a Board, Elections, Board Members at Large, etc. The Society seems to be made out of a blog, social media presence and people speaking at conferences. 

As I tried to understand more about the people founding and leading our Society, I became more and more impressed. For decades, they supported patients to be empowered, engaged, equipped and enabled to become partners in their care. Indeed conservators of the most underutilized resource in healthcare – the patient. 

I will share more about the SPM Founders and my understanding of the SPM history in a subsequent post



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