Stories Behind the Walking Gallery

joy_riosBy Joy Rios, Health IT Consultant at Ask Joy Health IT Consulting
Twitter: @askjoyrios

HIMSS, just like a multitude of other healthcare events, is a showcase. For most vendors, it involves reserving space in the exhibit hall and filling it with people to educate or entice passersby. Regina Holliday takes a completely different approach. As a well known patient advocate and activist, Regina Holliday’s creations are best viewed on the backs of attendees and speakers as they walk the halls.

While in Chicago, I made an effort to stop the folks I saw wearing their Walking Gallery jackets and hear their stories. Here’s a selection of my favorites.

Karen DeSalvo

Karen DeSalvo, MD

The jacket, titled “The Legacy of a Free Lunch,” represents how Dr. DeSalvo (@KBDeSalvo) relied on a government program when she was a child and her family needed help. After studying medicine and working as the Health Commissioner for the City of New Orleans, she was in a unique place to offer help to the community following Hurricane Katrina. She was particularly impressed with Regina’s attention to detail in painting her jacket. The dress her mom is wearing was pulled from an old family photo on FaceBook. It includes a jazz scene from the French Quarter, her current office building at the ONC, realistic depictions of her siblings, and a moon, represented by Blue Button, signifying her involvement with health information exchange.


Colin Hung

Colin Hung

Colin’s (@Colin_Hung) jacket, titled “Fly Space” represents Colin’s role as a supporter. As a social media regular, he is by no means shy. However, he does not seek to be center stage in healthcare. Instead, you’ll often find him behind the scenes, acting on behalf of patients and making sure they are truly at the center. True to form, Colin is one of the main organizers of the #HCLDR (aka healthcare leader) Twitter chats. He’s also a big Doctor Who fan, and if you look closely, Regina captured this detail as well.




David Lee Scher

David Lee Scher, MD

As a Pennsylvania-based Cardiologist and mobile health enthusiast, Dr. Scher’s jacket titled, “Return to Sender” depicts the plea of patients with implantable devices in their bodies who want access to their data. The two figures here reveal how their defibrillators are connected to the cloud – where their data can be reviewed by the device manufacturers, their doctors – but not by the patients themselves. Dr. Scher wants to emphasize that we must return the data to its original sender. “These patients are suffering emotional anguish and are unable to maintain their health to the best of their ability without such access. Denial is causing heartache within hearts already broken.” Read his full story here.


Kathy Nieder, MD

Kathy Nieder, MD

Dr. Nieder (@docnieder), a family physician in Louisville, Kentucky proudly wore her Walking Gallery jacket, titled “The Foundation of My Life.” It represents her journey with her husband as he was diagnosed with cancer in his early 50s. She’s also very active on Twitter, so Regina included several birds and Dr. Nieder’s favorite hashtag #hcsm. If you look closely, she and her husband are not resting in an open green field – they are sitting on top of a woman’s breast, signifying Dr. Nieder’s passion for women’s health.




Nick van Terheyden

Nick van Terheyden, MD

Dr. van Terheyden (@drnic1) Started his journey practicing medicine at an early age, regularly working 132-hour weeks. Practicing medicine while constantly exhausted made him question the system that places this type of burden on doctors and relies on the nursing team to quietly correct or prevent any errors. After a particularly tough day working triage in the ER without his regular team members around, he nearly quit. Thankfully, two consultants stepped in to help out. However, he is still disturbed that the common view in the health system is to overwork and exhaust everyone, which often leads providers away from the work altogether, or worse, to commit suicide. His full story can be read here.