More than 200 Oregonians got together in Portland April 24 for the We Can do Better conference on improving health care.
The keynote speaker was Regina Holliday, a patient advocate and artist who has been at the forefront of the push for patients to have full access to their medical records.
We Can do Better has spearheaded the Open Notes campaign in Oregon, to encourage doctors and hospitals to give patients access to their notes.
“In April the Kaiser system opened up their notes,” said Amy Fellows, the nonprofit’s director. “We are still working with other medical systems to encourage them to open their notes to patients.”
Speakers at the conference included Rep. Earl Blumenauer; John Santa MD, director of the Consumer Reports Health Ratings Center; and Tricia Tillman, director of the state’s Office of Equity and Inclusion.
Workshops looked at everything from improving access to healthy food and the role of community health workers, to how to empower patients within our healthcare system.
We Can do Better was founded by Gov. Kitzhaber between his terms as governor to bring more Oregonians to the discussion on healthcare. Anyone interested in improving healthcare can join We Can do Better. And about two dozen nonprofits came together through the nonprofit to create a Health Allies group that advocates for improvements to the healthcare system.
Tillman wound up the conference with a presentation on social factors that impact health. Researchers now know that health outcomes for adults are affected by the health of our parents and our nutrition in the womb as well as the environment we experience as children.
When looking at health equity, Tillman said, it becomes clear that racism and poverty are detrimental to health over many generations.
Tillman quoted OHSU researcher Kent Thornburg, Ph.D saying,
“The stresses experienced in the womb – virtually of all of which have their roots in the social and physical environment—alter the structure of the organs thus changing the expression of of regulatory genes throughout the lifetime. Together, these two processes lead to vulnerability for disease in adult life.”