About Medicine X – Sonny Vu

Sara and I talked about Sonny Vu’s statements on the latest episode of my podcast. Rather than recommend you listen to the full podcast (even though you should, it was a great recap), I’ve pulled out the important part for the sake of this post.

I want to reiterate one of the closing remarks I made about this whole topic: Medicine X was the perfect setting to have this happen.

Medicine X is all about bringing pieces of the healthcare conversation together in an accessible environment. Under different circumstances, I would likely be too intimidated to talk to big time Silicon Valley folks, internationally known doctors and researchers, and people who have spent more time thinking about health care than I’ve been alive. Medicine X removes that barrier.

Everyone is approachable at Medicine X. We’re all there for the same reason, because we think about health care differently. Some of us think about data, others about process. Some think about new tools and technology. Others focus on the big picture through various advocacy efforts. Simply being part of the conversation is enough of a qualification to approach someone and shake their hand – and perhaps sit down and talk about why things that were said on stage were worth a revisit.

At first I didn’t say anything to Sonny when I saw him outside of the main session room. But I remembered an earlier chat with Dr. Larry Chu, and his suggestion that I take advantage of the opportunity to talk with him directly. His insistence that the conversation not stop with a few tweets really deserves all the credit.

So I sat down with him. We talked about my diabetes management and the fact that I use an iBGStar (which he helped design). We talked about his reasons for not valuing focus groups. We talked about the fact that pumping saline will never be enough to replicate the experience of living with diabetes for people with functioning pancreases; a statement which he agreed with. We talked about the mental pressures of living with diabetes and why “not wanting to know the number” is often just the beginning of not wanting to check blood sugar. And we talked about the reaction his comments were generating on Twitter.

Curiously, when I mentioned Twitter to him, that seemed like the first time he had actually checked his mentions since his “blood sugar” comment earlier that day. I don’t think he really understood the relative gravity of the situation.

“What should I say?”

Asking for my advise, I suggested that he take as many tweets as he needed to clarify what he said on the panel. In talking with him, I know he understands the realities of living with diabetes. He gets the mental struggle this disease presents day in and day out, even if some of us are good at masking it. As I left our seats, I saw him composing a response. Whether or not it was sufficient is not up to me to decide:

I don’t know why he chose to make his statements as provocative as he did. Like Sara and I discussed on the podcast, what he said wasn’t necessarily wrong, but it was sensationalized to a point that people who could call BS on what he said, called BS on what he said. I’m just thankful there was an opportunity to have a constructive conversation about what he said rather than leave everything to rage at 140 characters.

Conferences like Medicine X are unique for a number of reasons – if accessibility wasn’t already on your list, I hope it is now.

Dont forget to check out my Storify post on my Medicine X experience.

Disclosure: I was awarded a partial scholarship to attend Medicine X this year. All other expenses, including the remainder of the registration was paid out of pocket. In case there was any doubt, I’m writing about this stuff for me.

2 thoughts on “About Medicine X – Sonny Vu

  1. Pingback: The danger of sound bites from Medicine X - Moments of Wonderful | Moments of Wonderful

  2. Pingback: Compiled Stanford Medicine X Posts | Dr Catherine Rose


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