I spend a lot of time thinking about how to improve our healthcare system – and not because I’m some sort of dreamer looking for a magic wand.

Okay, call me a dreamer, but I truly believe we can fix the broken parts if we focus our energy in the right places. And when we add up all of our voices – and there are a Let them eat croissantTON of them – we have a powerful and meaningful message.

Specifically when it comes to accessing the care that we not only need, but deserve. That’s right: Our right.

Which is why I was excited to travel down to Alexandra, Virginia and address a room full of executives at a healthcare industry meeting at 7:30 in the morning.

These particular executives work to improve “market access” for people who have chronic conditions. The spectrum of services range from being able to see a doctor (if you’ve ever been on a 3 month wait list, you know the feeling), to getting X-rays or MRI’s covered, to the all important – and unanimously annoying – access to medicines.

The group needed to hear that we struggle for access at all points on this spectrum, and we shouldn’t. Our healthcare system is NOT becoming of a first world country. The people who have to deal with this system and keep on keeping on are most often the ones who rely on it to stay healthy(ish).

The talk was met with a relatively high level of enthusiasm, at least the levels you’d expect at a breakfast meeting in a room full of market access specialists, and we had a chance to dialogue about the ways that groups like ours, and communities like CreakyJoints, need to be a part of the change, and help drive improved access to care.

We have to work hard for the things we need (and deserve), since we can’t rely on anyone else to get it to us. At this point, nothing is a given. And we can take nothing for granted.

I would also like to thank everyone who pitched in and helped us with our recent survey about access challenges. That information allowed us to take our stories – and our overwhelming majority of shared problems accessing care – to the rooms full of healthcare industry professionals who are actually empowered to make a difference.

If Twitter can topple Tahrir Square, then perhaps our mighty Facebook page can change the way all of us with arthritis get access to care. I believe in us and we will keep up the good fight!

(PS – they validated parking at this event, so it was a raging success)