So, what are you thankful for?

I have so many things to be thankful for -- what are you grateful for this year?

I am so grateful to be able to work and keep learning with this fantastic community of professionals that care so much about us, patients. I am thankful for their compassion and for the chance to impact somebody's life with my message.

I attended the Society for Participatory Medicine Symposium as part of the Connected Health Conference in Boston last month and was more than encouraged by listening to medical professionals and patients who have dedicated much of their professional (if not personal) lives to improving the patient experience and believing that this is so much easier to do than what most people might imagine.

Here are some of the takeaways that remain with me:

Dr. Tom Delbanco, of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (they have my vote for saving my life) who created OpenNotes -- making it possible for patients and doctors to communicate though Patient Site, change or schedule appointments, but most importantly -- have access to their doctor's notes. An educated patient is a happier and wiser patient. That's a good thing. Hearing from his colleague and patient, Liz Salmi, Multimedia Communications Manager at OpenNotes was also inspiring to learn about her story of a young woman with a brain tumor.

Listening to Dr. Lori Wilson of Howard University Hospital and Cancer Center's story of surviving breast cancer and recognizing the unique position of being a patient -- on the other side of medicine. Dr. Wilson's experience also provided an opportunity to see things through a completely different lens -- the patient.

Dr. Rushika Fernadnopulle, CEO of AIora Health was mind blowing -- to hear of a doctor and CEO of AIora Health and who is dedicated to changing and improving primary care to all their patients by looking at the whole person and assigning health coaches to ensure a patient's well-being.

Juhan Sonin, Creative Director of Involution Studios, spoke of the importance of design in helping patients to feel better and be more productive. Design to enhance patient experience -- hear, hear!

Having the honor of introducing Dr. Harlan Krumholz, Cardiologist, Yale University and Director, Yale-New Haven Hospital Center for Outcomes Research and Evaluation -- I've yet to see a more enthusiastic doctor who believes and is committed to allowing patients to make decisions about their health care. Novel idea -- perhaps it shouldn't be, but if I had a heart condition, I'd want Dr. Kumholz on my team.

This month specifically, I'm thankful for having the health and ability to take off on an adventure to East Asia with my daughter Chloe -- a senior at Emerson College my alma mater (not sharing what year I graduated)! We spent Thanksgiving Day traveling from Vietnam to Thailand before departing home -- you're probably receiving this as I'm about to land at Logan airport in Boston. Chloe has been studying in Australia this past semester -- so it was a wonderful reunion to see her in Thailand after four months!

So grateful that my son Noah is doing well his freshman year at Landmark College in Putney VT and my youngest daughter -- who I visited in early October -- is doing well at the University of San Francisco!

Everyone is healthy -- the most important thing! I'm grateful my mom is alive and well and will be spending some quality time with me on Cape Cod in December, along with my three children -- who will be in and out -- visiting friends, etc., Theres' something so nice about anticipating the holiday month and incoming New Year!

I promise you this is not one of those "my life is better than your life" letters -- sent out by many (sorry -- I don't mean to offend anyone here), but the truth is -- life is imperfect. It's tough to believe everything is hunky dory all the time and although I have so much to be grateful and thankful for -- I have challenges as well. You should have seen me attempt to get my medications in order before leaving and needing to take all pill bottles instead of my usual ginormous pill boxes. It goes with the territory of being a fortunate liver transplant recipient! I'm ok with that!

I'm also so thankful to my organ donor, Erica, and her family who I continue to maintain contact with and will attempt to help make their holiday season a better one.

Hoping you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and wishing you love, health and happiness in as we approach the holiday season!

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