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YU News

YU News

Tufts Meets with Social Media Patient Advocates

Robert Tufts, clinical assistant professor in management at Yeshiva University's Sy Syms School of Business and a multiple myeloma patient, was an invited attendee at the 2018 HealtheVoices Conference, which convened April 27 – 29 in Chicago, Illinois. Conference organizer Janssen Pharmaceuticals offers attendance to select health advocates who use social media to raise awareness of their specific health conditions. Attendees do not pay and Janssen does not promote its products at the event.

There were 120 patient-participants at this year’s conference. They were addressed by speakers from some of the major social media channels: Kim Richardson, content manager and blog editor for WebMD; Sarah Healy and Sonalika Reddi, strategic partner managers for the creator and artist development team at YouTube; and Mary Ann Belliveau, national health and wellness director at Twitter.

Tufts uses Twitter and Facebook to call attention to developing treatments, patient care issues and legislative developments that impact those battling multiple myeloma and other are rare diseases. He was impressed by the other advocates he met at the conference and the work they are doing for their own conditions, including HIV and mental illness. Stigma and acceptance are on the line for people coping with those challenges, he said, as well as for those with multiple myeloma or other conditions that may not have symptoms that are obvious to the casual observer. Conference attendees shared their stories, often very moving ones, and worked together on polishing their tactics for social media advocacy.