Everyone working toward more patient-friendly health care lost a valuable ally when Jessie Gruman died of cancer this summer.

I met Jessie when she spoke at The Alliance Annual Seminar in 2008. Through my work as a freelance journalist, I was able to interview Jessie four times over the years on behalf of varied publications. Whether she was persuading providers to listen to patients’ concerns or helping patients understand how to manage their finances during a serious illness, she was always thoughtful, articulate and caring.

Five quotes from these conversations are shared below.

Jessie Gruman

Jessie Gruman

How the health care system responds to patients who request more information:

“It’s a tough thing to tell people they should be more engaged in their healthcare when the response is, as I got once, ‘Who’s going to do the surgery, you or me?'”

– Healthcare Marketing Report, 2008

 

On the use of smartphone applications to provide health reminders:

“The second we start perceiving our cellphones as nagging us, we turn into adolescents and either turn the apps off or stop using them.”

– Home and Family Finance, 2013

 Why patients need to put finances in order when they learn they have a serious illness:

“A little bit of knowledge helps ground yourself so you can weather the storm that illness brings. …Financial preparations give you a few less things to worry about so you can concentrate on getting well.”

– Turning Point: Coping with Serious Illness, 2010

 On staying engaged as a patient going through a serious illness:

There is no time in your life that it is more important to gather and make judicious use of information, and there is no time in your life that it is more difficult to do so.”

– Alliance Annual Seminar, 2008

 Why employers should engage employees and family members in health decisions:

“Helping people to make really good use of their health care represents a neglected and potentially high-return focus for purchasers. Consider ratcheting up your investment and making sure that your employees really, really, really know when and how to use your plan and have the skills to do so when they’re seeking high-quality care.

– Alliance Annual Seminar, 2008

Darla Dernovsek
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Darla Dernovsek

Marketing Communications Manager at The Alliance
Darla Dernovsek joined The Alliance in 2013 as marketing communications manager. Dernovsek is responsible for managing and developing communication strategies as well as marketing plans to help fulfill The Alliance mission by raising market awareness.

Dernovsek has more than 25 years' experience in communications, public relations and marketing. From 1992 until joining The Alliance, Dernovsek owned her own freelance marketing and writing business to provide marketing consulting and writing for health-care related entities and credit union organizations. Earlier, she was the director of public relations for Rockford Memorial Hospital and city editor for the Beloit Daily News.

Dernovsek graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire with a bachelor of arts degree in journalism.

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