Earlier this month, USA Swimming Executive Director Chuck Wielgus delivered a speech at the Genetic Care Interchange Founders Conference in San Diego, Calif.
The event marked the inaugural gathering of many of the world’s top researchers who are developing genetic sequencing modules to be used in finding the root cause for different types of cancer and other genetic diseases.
Wielgus was part of a session entitled, “Patient Engagement and Adoption”. As a colorectal cancer survivor, he spoke to the group about cancer treatment from a patient’s perspective. He also spoke about how communication between researchers and front-line doctors can be modeled after the relationship between an organization like USA Swimming and its members.
Wielgus’ speech specifically pointed out the need to inform, entertain and inspire members to keep them engaged within an organization. It’s a unique challenge that USA Swimming tackles every day in order to reach its 300,000 members.
“Patients, like USA Swimming members, want to be connected with like-minded individuals. For example, at USA Swimming, our members are all a part of America’s Swim Team. From an Olympic swimmer to an 8-year-old on his or her club team, every swimmer in our organization is on the same team.”
Wielgus also pointed out the need for members to receive information in a way that they can easily process and understand. At USA Swimming, communication vehicles such as Splash Magazine, the website and e-newsletter, and social media channels are commonly used to share information with members.
Wielgus said that members want real value when it comes to their involvement in an organization. It’s up to organizations to explain its programs, services and benefits to members as best they can.
In working with patients and members, Wielgus also pointed out the importance of using data in ways than can be interpreted for use in a real and practical way. For example, USA Swimming can use data to look at top swimmers to monitor their peak performances within their training cycles.
Still, it’s important to point out that attitude, heart and the overall psychology of a swimmer is not something that data alone is able to explain. This same thought can be applied to patients.
Wielgus closed his speech by challenging the audience of scientists and researchers to consider the value of the inter-connectedness of being part of a team. He’s seen it work with the members of USA Swimming and it’s something that is applicable to many different groups of people.