Dr Martha Gaines: Turning Experience as Cancer Survivor into Patient Advocacy

Martha Gaines, MD, JD, LLM, founder and director of The Center for Patient Partnerships, clinical professor of law, University of Wisconsin Law School, explains how she turned her experience as a cancer survivor into a model for consumer-centered patient advocacy.

Martha Gaines, MD, JD, LLM, founder and director of The Center for Patient Partnerships, clinical professor of law, University of Wisconsin Law School, explains how she turned her experience as a cancer survivor into a model for consumer-centered patient advocacy.

Transcript

How did you transform your experience as a cancer survivor into a model for consumer-centered patient advocacy?

I was sort of in partnership with my oncologist, actually, who called me one day after I had been treated and said, “We got this lady, and she’s kind of down. Can you come talk to her?” So, I went and talked to her and while I was talking to her in the hospital, she said, “Hey I have this note from my insurance company that says they’re only willing to pay for 3 nights in the hospital even though my doctor wants me to stay for 5. Can you help with that?”

I’m a lawyer by training, so I said, “give me that,” and off I went. From that experience, I did more and more of that, and then I realized this would be an extraordinary experience for students — med students, nursing, social work, pharmacy, law – anybody who has an interest in the future of healthcare. So, I brought students together from those divisions inside the Center for Patient Partnerships, and we do advocacy work for people with life threatening and serious chronic illnesses.