At the Better Health Conference, New England’s premier patient engagement event, attendees had the opportunity to connect with vendors showcasing state-of-the-art consumer healthcare innovation.

“We often have a mix of people who come,” said Vicki Veltri, a board member of CT Partners for Health, “We have providers. We have lots of consumers or patients who come. We sometimes have people like me who are state agency people.”

The Better Health Conference was sponsored by Cigna and presented by Connecticut Partners for Health — a coalition of organizations and agencies from across the state — who have one goal in mind. 

“To get patients engaged in their healthcare and to get them healthier,” Veltri explained.

The Better Health Conference was hosted by News 8 anchor and medical reporter Jocelyn Maminta, and featured speakers like Dave deBronkart and his personal physician Danny Sands, M.D., M.P.H.

“In January 2007 I discovered I was almost dead from stage IV kidney cancer,” deBronkart recalled. “My average expectant life was 24 weeks; just 5-and-a-half months. I was really sick.”

But rather than take a back seat to his care, deBronkart decided to be as involved as possible.

“And ultimately that saved my life,” he said.

After beating caner, deBronkart became known as “e-patient Dave,” the e standing initially for “electronic” because of the role the internet played in his treatment.

“Now it means empowered, engaged, equipped, enabled,” deBronkart explained.

deBronkart and Dr. Sands advocate for something called “participatory medicine,” co-founding the Society for Participatory Medicine.

“We need to stop thinking about healthcare as a car wash in which patients are the cars and they’re dirty or unhealthy, and they’re passively passing through this healthcare system and getting healthcare sprinkled on them and somehow coming out the other side healthy,” Dr. Sands said. “We need to think about healthcare more as a collaboration.”

Some people think that in the speeches I give that I’m saying they should be like me or they’re bad and wrong,” deBronkart said. “That’s not what I say. What I do say is the medical profession, if they encounter somebody like me who wants to help we should welcome it.”

To learn more about the Better Health Conference, visit