Quality Care

Accelerating the Patient Voice: Empathy Amplifier

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In this episode, Kerry Amato, executive director, health innovation at HIMSS, speaks with empathy amplifier, Grace Cordovano, the CEO of Enlightening Results LLC, a patient advocacy and healthcare navigation service primarily for cancer patients and their loved ones. They discuss what it takes to be a patient advocate, why these services need to be in every doctor's office and what true empathetic design really means. Cordovano highlights the importance of distinguishing between patients vs. consumers and how long-term use of these labels in healthcare can damage the advancement of patient voice and empowerment. 

This discussion began by simply defining what a patient advocate does. Cordovano described the various names patients have given her, from quarterback and clarity provider to empathy amplifier. Sometimes she could be dubbed as a “patient voice.” Focusing on oncology patients, she helps from point of diagnosis to survivorship or end-of-life planning.  The main goal of her advocacy is to help people understand the diagnosis and to navigate a complex and fragmented health system.

The discussion between Amato and Cordovano covered patient advocacy topics that included preparing for appointments to maximize time with a physician, how to fight insurance denials, and how to understand clinical trials. Cordovano talked honestly about the challenges of juggling her own health problems, those of her children and disabled adults in her life – all while running her own patient advocacy business.

Cordovano shared client stories that deeply affected her, especially end-of-life experiences. “We are not well-prepared for death or for knowing resources available. With all the innovation, the AI, machine learning and other tools and technologies, at the end of the day, we are all just walking each other home. How can we bring more dignity to that? And more ice cream. It can be something so simple. But yes, we need the technology and tools to get there – to be well enough to have the ice cream,” she said.  

Cordovano touched on the need for patient input in the ideation and creation of new digital heath tools. She recognized the value of “lived experience” in advising tech companies on new products and services. Looking to the future, she is excited by innovation driven by patient voice when it comes to owning their health data and being empowered to make their own decisions.

Ultimately an optimist, Cordovano shared her belief that “there is always a way to make things better.” Though she has witnessed heartbreaking suffering, she is driven to help others by reducing administrative burdens, connecting people to information and simply listen to a spouse or loved one who is struggling. She has always found a way to bring joy to her own life and shares those insights with others.  

The views and opinions expressed in this content or by commenters are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of HIMSS or its affiliates.

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