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ICD Healthcare Network

ICD Healthcare Network

Over the decades: The evolution of patient experience

From personal struggle to seeking change, the effort to create a pioneering symposium championing patient-centered care.

Picture this: You’re diagnosed with a severe illness. You’re scared and confused. You don’t know what to do or where to turn. You go to your doctor for help, but still feel lost and alone. This is the reality for many patients today. The healthcare system can be complex and overwhelming, and it’s easy to feel like you’re just a number.

In September, ICD hosted its Seventh Annual Patient Experience Symposium in Boston. The energy was palpable, and I was reminded of my original motivation for creating this conference back in 2016 – to bring together leading stakeholders from across healthcare to share ideas and strategies for improving the patient experience.

This motivation comes from a personal place. When my mother was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer at the age of 52, there were many times when we felt confused, unseen or unheard. It was as if we weren't a priority.

For example, shortly after the diagnosis, I remember one doctor suggesting we go home and get our affairs together, as there was little else they could do. He told us she had two months to live, then asking, “Do you have any questions?”

We left his office with so many questions. But we were also determined to get a second and third opinion. We finally met an oncologist who listened to my mother and gave her the hope she needed.

My mom fought cancer hard, with various treatments that sometimes made her feel even sicker, and I took a break from school to care for her. But she outlived the first doctor’s prognosis and stayed with us for another two years. I can’t tell you what those years meant to her and to us, her family.

Forty years later — beginning in the pandemic and continuing these last three years — I have been caring for my partner with late-stage esophageal cancer. Going through radiation, chemotherapy, 20-plus surgeries and immunotherapy treatments isn’t easy for anyone. But this time, we feel the support of our doctors and nurses. They have been kind, compassionate and understanding. They remind us each time that we’re not alone — it’s an entirely different experience than with my mother 40 years ago.

Last month, we celebrated a clear PET scan. That’s why I’m so passionate about patient experience. Everyone deserves to receive high-quality care, regardless of their background or circumstances. With the annual Patient Experience Symposium, I want to bring together people from across healthcare to make a real difference in patients’ lives.

This week, our small company is celebrating our ninth year in business. At ICD, we believe that our impact on the healthcare industry is only just beginning. We are committed to improving the patient experience, and we have expanded our events and content to address other critical issues, such as burnout, equity, hospital at home and regulatory challenges.

We are driven by a vision of a healthcare system that is patient-centered, equitable and innovative. We believe that everyone deserves access to high-quality healthcare.

Our events and content are designed to inspire and empower healthcare professionals to make a difference. We bring together thought leaders from across the industry to share their insights and best practices. We also provide educational resources and networking opportunities to help healthcare professionals grow and develop.

We are committed to making a positive impact. We believe that together, we can create a better future for healthcare.

Bill Doherty is president of International Conference Development (ICD), a company that creates targeted content and events. He is a global events and media executive with a 30-plus year track record.

Originally published by ICD on Oct. 16, 2023.

ICD is dedicated to making an impact on healthcare by fostering collaboration at industry conferences. ICD aims to unite industry leaders, experts, and practitioners worldwide to address pressing healthcare challenges and opportunities. Join us on the journey at

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