For a moment, put away your political and philosophical beliefs about health care reform and consider the changes that are happening for the individual in health care. For the first time in the history of medicine, patients are encouraged — and in some cases expected — to take a more active, decision-making role in their health. How many times in your own experience were you told to follow doctors’ orders and not question their authority? This is no longer wise.
As health care costs rise and bad medical practitioners are exposed, we are moving into a new era in health care called participatory medicine. According to the Society for Participatory Medicine (http://participatorymedicine.org/), the definition of this new movement is “a cooperative model of health care that encourages and expects active involvement by all connected parties (patients, caregivers, healthcare professionals, etc.) as integral to the full continuum of care. The ‘participatory’ concept may also be applied to fitness, nutrition, mental health, end-of-life care, and all issues broadly related to an individual’s health.”
As a patient and caregiver, I could not be more encouraged by this new shift in responsibility. As a professional working in health care, I am pleased this movement will help to control costs and improve delivery of services. Consider what this means to you.
As an e-Patient — a term being used to describe the new participatory medicine patient — you can:
- Collaborate with your physician and treatment teams to determine the best medical options for yourself or your family member
- Engage in your medical treatment by choosing to change your behavior, educate yourself about your medical condition, and find the best provider for your care
- Join online communities of individuals who have the same illness and share best practices, treatment options and experiences
- Participate in community health decision-making as a member of a patient community
There is a gentleman by the name of Dave “e-Patient Dave” (http://epatientdave.com/) deBronkart who is the face of the e-Patient movement. Dave is a cancer patient who through his own experience and quizzical nature researched the options for his medical treatment and changed doctors — most likely extending his life. Today, he advocates on government panels, writes a blog, speaks at national conferences and helps the everyday individual redefine the delivery of care in America. I highly encourage you to visit his blog, e-Patient Dave — A Voice of Patient Engagement, and learn about the shift to participatory medicine.