Sarah Krüg wants to hear your voice. She wants to see you be a champion. She wants to hear you ROAR. And she wants you to do this for your health.
Sarah is a self-described patient advocate, researcher and health innovator, but her passion for her career stems from something very personal.
"I lost both of my parents at a very young age and naturally got involved with cancer research and disease management at Memorial Sloan Kettering in the hopes that I could help alleviate some of the burden many families face," she said.
Her passionate work is helping the health care industry think more about patient voices and how they can be used as a powerful tool in health innovation, and she's been steadily moving toward her role as a leading thought producer in this area. She began really working in the field of patient advocacy as a volunteer patient navigator helping to guide patients through the health care system.
"I often spent just as much time in my volunteer work as I did with my full time job, but advocacy was a field I was quite passionate about so it didn't matter," she said.
The next natural move was to make advocacy her full time job. So she did.
Sarah works as the CEO of CANCER101, a patient advocacy organization with a mission to help patients and caregivers navigate the cancer journey and partner with their health care team to make informed decisions. But she didn't stop there. Sarah also combined her experiences across different sectors to create the Health Collaboratory, a global health care transformation consultancy that creates impact through innovation, patient engagement strategies, and platforms that pave the way for co-design and collaboration in health care.
Through Health Collaboratory, Sarah has created Patient Shark Tank®, an innovative way to understand how health care providers can uniquely address patient needs. Innovators pitch concepts or initiatives and patient panelists ask targeted questions based on their experiences. There have been 14 Patient Shark Tank® events nation-wide, and will soon be available virtually to help spread the concept over a wider audience. Sarah also created Patient Doctor Tango®, a methodology geared toward enhancing the patient-doctor relationship.
"I'm passionate about extending a lifeline to patients and caregivers when they need it most during their journey, and helping them navigate uncharted waters," she said. "My personal mission is to empower patients to have a voice throughout the process -- from their exchanges with their clinicians to partnering with innovators to co-design the future of health care."
Sarah will discuss on how the patient voice can be amplified to accelerate healthcare innovation during her talk, "Missing Link: The Patient's Roar," at TEDxNavesink 2015 on April 11. She is a seamless fit with this year's theme, accelerators, since acceleration is "pivotal in health care right now."
"Our health care system is embarking upon one of the greatest investments in patient engagement ever, but many have left out the voice of the patient in these efforts," Sarah said. "The opportunity to highlight the true accelerators in reforming health care, the patients, was my main draw to this conference."
Sarah wants TEDxNavesink audience members to recognize the power that comes from their own voices when dealing with health care issues.
"They don't have to be silent through their journey, and they can learn from the simple examples I share to co-design the future based on their simple issues," she said. "Each and every patient and caregiver has a unique perspective, a powerful roar, that's critical in shaping health care. We are architects of our journey."
Sarah even has a message for health care innovators.
"I want to ensure that we don't lose sight of the basic frustrations patients face and that they take the time to listen to the roar of the patient and leverage the expertise a patient can provide."
Sarah's passion for letting the voice of the patient be heard is evident in her advocacy-centered career and work. But she doesn't just have a passion for patient advocacy, she also has been transformative in health care as a whole.
Her work serving as a bridge between innovators in health care and patients and caregivers through vehicles that help amplify the voice of the patient in the design, development or enhancement, is serving to create patient-centered solutions.
"At times, the patient doesn't recognize the power of his or her voice and in parallel, the innovator has based an innovation on what they consider a 'good idea,'" she said. "Connecting the two has led to exciting and revolutionary innovations."
But Sarah knows her journey to meld patient voices with health care innovations won't happen overnight, nor will a transformation occur without spreading this idea of patient advocacy partnered with clinician understanding.
"It's one building block at a time," she said. "It's important to recognize the small changes that have a significant impact."
For Sarah, it's all about using creativity and passion when driving these important points home. She makes it a point to illustrate ideas using simple analogies.
"To illustrate the point of addressing a simple issue in health care and partnering with patients to co-design a solution, I use a hospital gown designed back in the 20th Century to crystallize my point," she said. "Passion also helps ideas spread like wildfire. If you're passionate about your idea, it makes dedicating the time and effort to move it from concept to reality much more tangible."
Sarah has used her personal experiences in health care, along with her work and education, to try to fix the issues that exist in the health care system. Rather than dwelling on the past and the "what ifs," Sarah has chosen to address the issue through simple solutions in partnership with patients.
Don't miss your opportunity to learn how to roar! Reserve your seat for TEDxNavesink 2015 now! Click here!
Stephanie Eichmeyer is a content production and marketing specialist for the TEDxNavesink team. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in communication from Monmouth University. Stephanie has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia and has worked in journalism and PR for many years.