It has been some weeks since I was announced the winner of the Patient: Healthcare Collaborator award, as part of the 6th WEGO Health Awards! To say that I was shocked is an understatement. Every single person who was nominated and shortlisted really did deserve to win. Not only for the incredible things that they have done in their lives, but simply by the fact that they are all using their experiences to influence the way in which people live with health conditions now, and in the future.

WEGO Health

WEGO Health is a mission-driven company connecting healthcare with the experience, skills and insights of patient leaders, working across all health conditions and topics. WEGO Health Experts is the first on-demand talent platform that matches companies seeking patient expertise with individuals who are available to work as independent consultants. WEGO Health’s network collaborates with startups, life sciences companies, non-profits, agencies, government and all types of organisations across healthcare. WEGO Health offers enterprise and on-demand solutions that allow organisations to leverage patient experience and expertise in the design, development, and promotion of their products and services.

The WEGO Health Awards

Originally coined the “WEGO Health Activist Awards”, the WEGO Health Awards were created to embody the mission of WEGO Health: to empower patient leaders. Since its inception in 2011, the WEGO Health Awards have proven to be one of the best ways to connect the healthcare industry with top patient influencers. The WEGO Health Awards offers a way to introduce new patient leaders to the online community, and to allow network members the opportunity to recognise and say “thank you” to the leaders they look up to.

The 6th WEGO Health Awards 2017

2017 saw the 6th WEGO Health Awards take place, with close to 2,500 nominations and almost 30,000 endorsements. There were 16 categories this year:

  • Advocating for Another;
  • Best in Show: Blog;
  • Best in Show: Community/Forum;
  • Best in Show: Facebook;
  • Best in Show: Instagram;
  • Best in Show: Podcast (New for 2017);
  • Best in Show: Twitter;
  • Best in Show: YouTube;
  • Best Kept Secret;
  • Best Team Performance;
  • Rookie of the Year;
  • Patient Leader Hero;
  • Hilarious Patient Leader;
  • Healthcare Collaborator: Company (New for 2017);
  • Healthcare Collaborator: Patient (New for 2017);
  • Lifetime Achievement.

From the close to 2,500 nominees, five finalists for each of the 16 categories were selected, based upon a combination of those who received the most endorsements, and the opinion of over 150 WEGO Health patient leader judges who helped judge the two semi-final rounds, which selected the final two nominees for each category.

To ensure that patient leaders across the globe had a chance to participate, the 16 winners were announced during the virtual WEGO Health Awards celebration between October 11th and 13th 2017 on Facebook Live. During these three action packed days, WEGO Health also hosted twitter chats to enable more people to interact and learn from each other.

Then, the awards were announced! So without further ado, the 2017 distinguished class of WEGO Health Award recipients are:

  • Advocating for Another – Marla Jean Murasko;
  • Best Kept Secret – Roberta Carson;
  • Best In Show: Blog – Eric Polsinelli / VeganOstomy;
  • Best In Show: Facebook – Gustavo San Martin;
  • Best In Show: Community/Forum – #BCSM / Breast Cancer Social Media;
  • Hilarious Patient Leader – Luke Escombe;
  • Best In Show: Instagram –  Paige Rawl;
  • Lifetime Achievement – Kathy Phillips Kelley;
  • Best In Show: YouTube – Amy Fisher;
  • Best In Show: Twitter – Randy L. Patrick Jr.;
  • Best Team Performance – Andrea and Kayla Abramowitz / Kayla Cares 4 Kids;
  • Rookie of the Year – Erin Goodwin/ InsideOut Ostomy;
  • Best In Show: Podcast – Gabe Howard (The Psych Central Show);
  • Patient Leader Hero – Alisha Bridges;
  • Healthcare Collaborator: Company – HealthSparq; and
  • Healthcare Collaborator: Patient – Simon Stones!

I really wasn’t expecting that announcement! My jaw quite literally dropped as I heard my name announced on Facebook Live at 9.30 pm, while watching Coronation Street  on demand in my onesie after a long week of work! For once, I was lost for words, and completely overwhelmed to be announced the winner of the Healthcare Collaborator: Patient category.

The WEGO Health Awards Ceremony

For the first time, the WEGO Health Awards added a live component to the celebration this year. Partnering with World Congress, the 16 winners were honoured live, in person, at the WEGO Health Awards Dinner Ceremony held in conjunction with the 5th Annual Patient Advocacy Summit on Monday 23 October 2017 in Arlington, VA.

This year’s WEGO Health Award winners won an entrance to the 5th Annual Patient Advocacy Summit, valued at $990, a $500 travel stipend to attend the dinner ceremony, a personalised award plaque, and a waived engagement fee on the WEGO Health Experts platform.

Unfortunately, I was unable to get myself over to the US in time – despite my very best efforts at trying to do so. However, I was able to join in online, and follow the events as they happened! The lovely team at WEGO Health also sent my plaque in the post, which arrived last week! So here’s some lovely photos with my plaque and WEGO Health T-Shirt taken in my home town of Bolton, with the best views of Manchester!

Once again, well done to everyone who was nominated, shortlisted and won an award. Each day, I am inspired by the people I meet, and the people who I get to work with. There are so many incredible individuals out there working to help others, and it’s a complete honour to be a part of such a fabulous community of heroes. It restores my faith in humanity. This award is for all the people out there striving to make healthcare better for all!

 

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Written by simonrstones

Simon Stones BSc (Hons) is an award-winning patient leader, advocate and researcher from Manchester in the UK, who was the winner of the international WEGO Health Award for Patient Healthcare Collaborator in 2017. He is a passionate advocate and ambassador for people living with invisible illnesses, inspired and empowered by his own journey with arthritis, fibromyalgia, and inflammatory bowel disease since childhood. He is currently an Associate Fellow of the Royal Commonwealth Society, and a trustee of Fibromyalgia Action UK and RAiISE.

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