Irrational exuberance was a term once used to describe the stock market before the last crash. It also seems an apt description for much of the talk these days about empowered health consumers.
To be sure, patients today have unprecedented access to health information. Patient decision-support tool can be found on just about every provider, payer and self-insured employer website. Consumers can go to any number of websites to find quality data about hospitals, physicians and health plans. Personal health records (PHRs) promise to make our personal health data portable for meaning that all our treating physicians will be “singing off the same song sheet.”
That’s what the industry experts tell us. But what’s really going on? Here I will describe what I see as the top 5 myths about empowered health consumers. Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at Mind The Gap*
“There is a better way – structural reforms that empower patients with greater choices and increase the role of competition in the health-care marketplace.” Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) August 3, 2011
The highly charged political debates about reforming American health care have provided tempting opportunities to rename the people who receive health services. But because the impetus for this change has been prompted by cost and quality concerns of health care payers, researchers and policy experts rather than emanating from us out of our own needs, some odd words have been called into service. Two phrases commonly used to describe us convey meanings that mischaracterize our experiences and undervalue our needs: “empowered patient” and “health care consumer.”
As one who has done serious time as a patient and who spends serious time listening to talks and reading the literature that use these words to describe us, I ask you to reconsider their use.
“Empowered patient” The fabrication of the verb “to empower” from the noun “power” was used in the civil rights and community development movements to describe a benevolent bestowal of influence on disenfranchised individuals and groups by those who had previously excluded them. When used in relation to health care, the word perpetuates the idea that we are passive entities, waiting to be gratefully endowed by our clinician or a new policy with the right and ability to act on our own behalf. Our “empowerment” takes place not as a result of our own will or preference, but rather because we have been given permission to act in a different way by some external agent.
This word is Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at Prepared Patient Forum: What It Takes Blog*