HLTH 2020: Pull Up a Chair for Patients at Your Table

Year after year, conference after conference, patients are left out of the conversations around their care. And while we’re far from where we need to be as an industry and healthcare system, more companies than ever are noticing the need to involve healthcare’s key stakeholder: patients. One of those companies, HLTH, is demonstrating their commitment to patients and ensuring they get a seat at the table by partnering and supporting the WEGO Health Awards for the second year in a row.

The WEGO Health Awards recognize and honor those making a difference in the online health community, providing an opportunity to thank and support the Patient Leaders who are working to build a more human-centered healthcare system.

In 2019, HLTH invited the WEGO Health Awards winners to attend the in-person HLTH event in Las Vegas and hosted a live WEGO Health Awards ceremony to celebrate their achievements. As patients and caregivers shared their stories, the industry professionals and other attendees were quickly reminded of their “why” and the importance of seeing patients as people, and more importantly, as partners. There wasn’t a dry eye in the audience.

This year, HLTH has stepped up and given patients an even bigger stage at the conference. Out of an abundance of caution for COVID-19, the 2020 event will be held virtually. HLTH has invited all 96 WEGO Health Awards finalists to attend the five-day virtual event and will help announce this year’s WEGO Health Awards winners during a virtual ceremony celebration.

To patients, the opportunity to participate in conversations at HLTH is invaluable. There are few other opportunities for them to attend sessions and weigh in with their perspective and condition expertise. The conversations about them now include them – and to patients, it means more than words. We then asked our finalists to weigh in on what they are most excited for with regard to attending HLTH. Here’s what some had to say:

Patient inclusion at events is important because you can’t have innovation without patient input. The big decisions in healthcare are all too often made by people who don’t live with illness, who don’t use the services, and who won’t be affected by the fallout of those decisions.Caz Homer
I am proud to be a patient leader at HLTH because the healthcare ecosystem needs to start paying attention to patients and caregivers. Likewise, patients and caregivers need to become active, informed players in the ecosystem. Kevin Freiert
One message I hope to convey at HLTH about patients is we are just as passionate about health as you are. Together we can make a difference. This is why we are all here to begin with – to create change. Effie Koliopoulos

Beyond giving patients the platform they well deserve, patient leaders also see HLTH as an opportunity to build trust between the industry and their communities.

I am most looking forward to meeting more industry professionals looking to create deeper connections between patients and healthcare leaders at HLTH. Damian Washington
It is only through honest partnership that we are able to accomplish some of our most powerful achievements. Trust collaborations are the only way forward.Lauren Deluca

You see, these individuals aren’t just patients – they are potential partners who know what their communities need and are eager to partner with healthcare companies who are ready to make a real impact in the patient experience.

My passion in life involves sharing ‘my seat at the table’ with as many other patients, worldwide, as possible. My experience and what I learn will become THEIRS too!Tiffany Westrich-Robertson
When partnering with patients, everyone wins. The patients are heard and get a solution to a problem, and industry is handed a gift in the form of identifying a true problem that their product or service could solve. Win-Win. Kathy Reagan
If healthcare partners with patients, together we can work towards a system where providers are more effective and patients are not only empowered, but informed and active participants in their care.” Alexa Chronister

And though this industry has begun to accept that brands must partner with patients for real results, the question remains, how do companies best partner with patients?

To partner with patients, you must first build relationships with patient communities, develop patient-led initiatives and partner with patients on awareness and advocacy campaigns.Kristal Kent
The best strategy to partner with patients? Be open-minded, welcoming and collaborative. Be willing to listen to their points of view, and engage in an open dialogue that is comfortable for everyone involved. Treating patients in a professional manner just like you would an employer/employee or a potential business partner would help, too. We deserve to be taken seriously as well for our time, efforts and feedback.Effie Koliopoulos
Reach out to real patient advocates who can speak on their own experiences and the experiences of their community.Justin Birckbichler

However, building trust doesn’t happen overnight. Like any relationship, the patient relationship requires action and evidence that your brand is serious and ready to not just listen, but to also put their feedback and ideas into action. As you engage with these Patient Leaders at HLTH, keep their words in mind:

There must be continuous patient dialogue, and not a conversation held every three months. No gaps whatsoever. It is pertinent to empower patients to make them active partners in their healthcare.Grace B Charrier
The most powerful way to show patients your brand cares is to give them an opportunity to give feedback, listen, and act on what is discussed.William Yank
The best way to build patient trust in your brand is to put real people in the campaigns. Patients who are living with the issues that your brand is all about can do more in the way of trust.Suzanne Stewart

If you encounter a patient leader at HLTH, meet them with gratitude and compassion. These leaders are excited and ready to share insights, experiences, and ideas on how all sectors of health can work together to truly achieve the optimal future of healthcare. Embrace the conversations with open arms and discover the change the patient perspective can bring.

Throughout the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing more of the best ways to partner with patients, why patient collaboration is so powerful, and how brands can truly build trust with patients – all directly from the WEGO Health Awards finalists.

Follow along with the #HLTH2020 and #WEGOHealthAwards hashtags to hear these real patient insights from those leading patient communities.

And be sure to connect with the WEGO Health Awards finalists on social – these are the leading patient influencers of the online health community and if you’re part of healthcare, you need to be listening.

Click here to learn more about HLTH and the virtual agenda. If you’d like to attend the WEGO Health Awards ceremony, click here.

9th Annual WEGO Health Awards | How it Works

The WEGO Health Awards were created to embody the mission of WEGO Health: to empower patient leaders.

Considering the WEGO Health Patient Leader Network is centered around these healthcare transformers, we knew it was up to us to celebrate their accomplishments. From this need to celebrate the leaders who make a difference, the WEGO Health Awards were born.
Since its inception in 2011, the WEGO Health Awards have proven to be one of the best ways to honor, recognize, and celebrate the work of patient advocates, influencers and healthcare collaborators who are helping others and transforming healthcare – often without any formal recognition.
With 16 different award categories, it is the only program to recognize patient leaders across all condition areas and platforms; whether running an online support group, speaking at conferences or sharing their health journey on Instagram, there is truly an award category to recognize every patient leader out there.
The program is split into four different phases:
1. Nominations | June – July
2. Endorsements | July
3. Judging | August – September
4. Celebration | October
Last year, we received over 6k nominations and over 130k endorsements. From there, our judging panels narrowed 6k nominations to 75 finalists and later to just 15 winners. In partnership with HLTH, we had our biggest WEGO Health Awards celebration ever! HLTH sponsored our 15 winners, covering admission and travel expenses, to attend the HLTH event and be honored on healthcare’s biggest stage for their advocacy achievements.
Learn more about how the WEGO Health Awards work:

Open June 9th-July 31st
Think of nominations as a way to recognize your favorite patient leaders for the work they are doing. With 16 award categories, it’s easy to show your appreciation for all the patient advocates in your life. To start nominating, simply visit click here.
🏆 Tip for Nominees: Share out your WEGO Health profile and ask your community to recognize you for the WEGO Health Awards. Don’t be afraid to post to social, reach out to foundations, and include in any email correspondence. Your work deserves to be recognized! Once you’re nominated, you’ll receive a Nominee Media Kit for easy sharing.
Who should be nominated? Who can win a WEGO Health Award?
Anyone who is an active and leading member of an online community, and making a difference in healthcare, is eligible to be nominated. He or she should provide the community with valuable information and support to make a difference for other patients and caregivers. Nominees for an individual social channel award must have a presence on that particular social channel, of course.
Think about the advocates and influencers you see leading Facebook groups, blogging about their health journey, speaking up and giving insights to healthcare companies, presenting on national stages, and running Twitter chats. Patient Leaders have started non-profits, published podcast episodes, and authored books–there is no shortage of Patient Leaders’ contributions to the world, so let’s recognize as many of them as we can for their talents, contributions, and commitment.
How did you come up with the categories? Can I only use those to nominate someone?
The WEGO Health Awards were created based on Patient Leader feedback and the same is true of the categories we use. They might change a bit each year, but they’re created with you and your community in mind. We’ll only be selecting winners for the categories listed in our nomination form, but we’re always open to suggestions.
How do I nominate someone?
Go to our WEGO Health Awards nominations page to get started. Tell us who you want to recognize, where you follow them online, and the WEGO Health Award you think they should win. Once you’re finished nominating your favorite patient leader, feel free to share that nomination with your community or send a tweet with the hashtag #WEGOHealthAwards. And be sure to nominate early and often; we want to recognize as many patient leaders as possible.
Can I nominate myself?
Of course. We hope you’ll reach out to your community and ask them to nominate their favorite members of the online health world – and that includes you! However, you’re more than welcome to nominate yourself as part of the process. Be sure to take a moment and recognize any of the great leaders that help you on a daily basis as well.
How will I know if I am nominated?
Each nominee will be notified via email and social media (as applicable) and will be given the chance to complete/update a WEGO Health profile with additional information about themselves and their advocacy. Please note, notifications can take 24-72 hours from the time of the nomination submission

Open July 1st – Jul 31st
This period provides a community-choice aspect of the program. Endorsements are a way to give nominees a visual show of support for a specific nomination, think of it like “liking” a post or photo on social media. For instance, if a nominee is nominated for Best in Show: Twitter, and you believe they deserve this recognition, your endorsement is the perfect way to show your support.
The three nominees with the most endorsements in each of the 16 categories will automatically become finalists.
🏆 Tip for Nominees: Grab Your Endorsement Badge | Once endorsements open (in July!), navigate to the ‘Awards’ tab, of your WEGO Health profile. Here you will be able to download images and badges to put on your sites to gain endorsements. We invite you to keep your badge up once endorsements are closed to proudly display your accomplishment.
What happens when I endorse a nominee? Is it the same as voting?
Endorsements were created to give network members a chance to participate in the WEGO Health Awards. Think of it as a way to give a shout-out or virtual hug to your favorite Patient Leaders.
In response to feedback from the community, the endorsement process helps select top patient leaders to move on to the finalist round. The three most endorsed nominees in each WEGO Health Award category will automatically become a finalist. There are six finalists within each category and the final award winner is selected by our panel of distinguished judges.
So, if you are nominated for an award, make sure you ask your friends, family, and community members to take a moment to endorse your efforts.
Can I endorse more than one person?
While you can only endorse a nominee once per award category they are nominated for, you can endorse as many people as you like. If you want to spread the love and endorse others, feel free to do so.
Do likes/tweets count as endorsements?
While showing your support through Facebook likes or tweets is appreciated by the nominees, we will not be counting that form of social media support towards endorsements.
Can I still become a finalist if I do not get a high number of endorsements?
Yes. While the three nominees with the highest endorsement numbers in each category will automatically become finalists, the additional three finalists will be determined by our judging panelists through numerous additional factors aside from endorsements.

August – September
We host multiple rounds of judging, after all, we receive thousands of nominations! Judges will be using the information provided in the nominee’s WEGO Health profile to review and score.
Determining Finalists
In the past, there were a total of five finalists, however, given community feedback, we will now be celebrating six finalists in each award category. To ensure the integrity of the program, half of the finalists will be determined through endorsement count and half will be selected through our judging process. Finalists are selected in two ways:
1. The top three endorsed nominees within a WEGO Health Award category automatically move on as finalists.
2. The subsequent three finalists in each category are selected by our network judging panelists. Finalists will be selected based on their relevance to that particular award and the information provided in a nominee’s profile. The finalist judging panels are comprised of past award winners, foundations, and organizations.
Once the top six finalists in each WEGO Health Award category have been selected, we’ll announce the finalists on our blog and then move into the final round of judging.
Selecting the Winners
Top industry experts and sponsors convene to review the six finalists in each category based on their use of social media, their fit for the award for which they’ve been nominated, and how effectively they engage their online community. Judges score individually, and then WEGO Health tallies these scores to identify the winners. No one knows the winners until we make the announcement at our annual WEGO Health Awards Virtual Ceremony.
Note: A nominee’s community size (number of fans, followers, readers, members, etc.) will not be considered. The nominee is judged based on their content and fit for the award category.
🏆 Tip for Nominees: Update Your Profile | Having a completed WEGO Health profile allows judges to gain a comprehensive understanding of your mission.
I want to be a judge for the WEGO Health Awards. How can I do that?
If you’re interested in participating, please email us at awards@wegohealth.com with the subject line ‘Be a Judge’ for additional details.
Can judges be nominees or WEGO Health Award winners?
We do allow those who were nominated to participate in the network judging process. However, if a judge is nominated for a certain award, they are not allowed to judge that category. We also give the judge the option to either remove themselves from the running or give up their judge’s spot.
How do you pick your judges?
We have many patient leaders, patients, caregivers, industry leaders, previous winners, finalists and Patient Leader Network members who connect with us throughout the year. Many of them express interest in being involved with the WEGO Health Awards. The WEGO Health team compiles a list of those enthusiasts throughout the year and connects with each before our WEGO Health Awards season. We then chat about the details, time commitment, and what is expected of the judges. Once they confirm they would like to officially participate, they are in.
How do you score the nominees? What criteria do judges use when selecting semi-finalists, finalists, and winners?
Judges score nominees on the following criteria:
• Fit for the Award | How well does this person fit the category they are nominated for? For example: if they are nominated for Rookie of the Year, have they only recently started their advocacy journey?
• Use of Social Media | How well does this Patient Leader use social media for their activism? Are they active, engaged, and responsive on their networks? Are they a power user of social media and active on multiple profiles?
• Focus on sharing of information and overall engagement | How well does this Patient Leader balance sharing of their own content with the sharing of others’ content and information?

The health of our community members is of utmost importance during the global COVID-19 pandemic. Though we’d love to celebrate in person, after much discussion and feedback from our Patient Leader Advisory board, we have decided to make the celebration strictly virtual to ensure all of our WEGO Health Award winners are safe and included.
Going virtual doesn’t mean the celebration stops though! We’re partnering with HLTH to bring patient leaders to the forefront of this industry celebration. Winners will be announced in a virtual ceremony during the HLTH event in early October 2020.
This year, winners will receive:
• $500 cash prize to be used towards advocacy efforts or travel
• Compensated WEGO Health 2021 Patient Leader Advisory Board Seat (estimated cash value $1500)
• Feature as a worlds’ top patient expert in HLTH’s patient-centered webinar series, as well as industry exposure opportunities throughout the year*
*Winners will have priority for speaking engagement and industry exposure events throughout 2021, depending on the state of COVID-19.
We are so eager for another season of celebrating patient leaders. There are so many tremendous patient advocates, influencers, and collaborators out there doing powerful work – we look forward to shining a much-deserved spotlight on them!
We encourage you to view all of the current WEGO Health Awards nominees in the nominee directory
Click here to view the nominees.

More questions? Please feel free to refer to the WEGO Health Awards FAQ Page.

Written by WEGO Health
WEGO Health is a mission-driven company connecting healthcare with the experience, skills and insights of patient leaders. We are the world’s largest network of patient leaders, working across virtually all health conditions and topics.