ABCNews.com has posted a great new piece by Dr. Roni Zeiger entitled, “The Biggest Wasted Resource in Health Care? You.” Subtitle: “How Your Internet Research Can Help Your Relationship With Your Doctor.” It’s well reasoned and clearly written, and continues the trend we cited a month ago, when Time posted Dr. Zack Meisel’s article saying that patients who Google can help doctors.
— Dr. Zeiger’s article title parallels what Dr. Charles Safran told the House Ways & Means Subcommittee on Health in 2004: Patients are “the most under-utilitized resource.” He was talking about health IT, quoting his colleague Dr. Warner Slack, who had said it many years earlier. I often quote it in my speeches for the Society for Participatory Medicine, asserting that it applies not just to IT but to all of healthcare.
— Dr. Zeiger is on the editorial board of our Journal of Participatory Medicine and is Chief Health Strategist at Google. He gets the power of patient engagement deeply and clearly. Last fall he posted a prediction that in the future it might be malpractice for doctors not to prescribe a patient community to help you help yourself with your conditions.
Prediction: Googling and patient networks will become essential as we move toward the practice of shared medical decision making (SMDM). I know firsthand that the information my kidney cancer community gave me about coping with treatments went well beyond what my excellent clinicians could offer. (We’re starting a series on SMDM. The first entry was in December.)
Well, here’s a treat: Dr. Charles Smith, a founder of the Society for Participatory Medicine, recently gave a lecture at Duke entitled, “How to Become a More Effective e-Patient.” Here it is, in four video segments.
“Charlie” (as we all call him) is a wonderful guy. He’s co-editor-in-chief of the Journal of Participatory Medicine and was Doc Tom Ferguson’s physician. He’s been walking this walk for many years, and here he shares his personal advice –- not just for patients, but for health professionals who want to learn this participatory thing.
(The “Joe & Terry” he mentions are our founders Joe and Terry Graedon of People’s Pharmacy, longtime Duke associates.)
An audio-only version is also available (see below). Read more »
I recently spoke at the first annual ePatient Connections conference in Philadelphia. I’ll be discussing the ePatient revolution (patients participating in their healthcare decision-making using Internet tools) at ABC news channel 8 live this morning with Dave Lucas. During the segment I’ll be referring to several websites that people will want to check out. For those of you who saw the segment, welcome to my website! Here are the links:
1. Doctors answer questions for free at MedHelp.org Did you know that 9 of the top 11 hospital centers in the country offer access to their physicians for free at MedHelp.org? As part of a PR effort, hospitals are volunteering their doctors’ time to make sure that ePatients can get their questions answered by a reputable source.
2. Identify those mystery pills. Thanks to David Hale at the NIH, a new pill identifier tool is now available online. It’s called “PillBox” and it will soon allow you to search its large pill database by describing the color, shape, and letter/number codes printed on the tablet. Eventually, you may even be able to take a photo of the mysterious pill and have PillBox automatically identify it for you! Today, unfortunately, photo resolution on most cell phones and cameras is not sufficient for this feature to work. Read more »
Now comes the Journal of Participatory Medicine to fill a gap in journals which acknowledge the active role of the patient in current medical practice. While other journals publish articles on patient participation in health care and social media, but a single journal devoted to this topic will be a welcome addition and make the topic more officially sanctioned as a valid field of medical study. The editorial board is very impressive and lends an important boost to this new journal.
Participatory Medicine is a cooperative model of health care that encourages and expects active involvement by all connected parties (health care professionals, patients, caregivers, etc.)
When patients are aware of such things as their weight, BMI, blood pressure, recent key laboratory results, and so on, and when they come to the office motivated and prepared, outcomes are likely to be much better. The patient who passively waits for advice and direction from the physician is more likely to forget instructions, make excuses for failures, lack the discipline to lose the needed weight or stay on the required diet, and so forth.
Patients themselves, not their doctors, must be the ones to make the essential decisions about their health. They must be able to obtain the necessary information to make key decisions, then act on them.
How does this process happen? A patient may agree with this statement and want to begin to operate in this mode, but not know how to do it. Here is a short list of the essential steps necessary to begin the practice of participatory medicine:
1. If possible, find a physician who understands, and supports, this concept, including one who is willing to communicate with you by e mail and directly answer your phone calls.
2. Consider the option of using a service like edocamerica, that is dedicated to providing you with the information necessary to make decisions about your own health care. They can supplement your physician and are available to you 24/7 and always welcome your questions. Moreover, they are dedicated the concept of PM and are oriented towards health and wellness, not just managing your diseases.
3. Start following blog and twitter posts by persons who are now actively discussing how Participatory Medicine is going to change the way health care is practiced.
4. Keep a current list of your medications, including the Brand name, generic name, dose and frequency of each one.
5. Look up the most common side effects of each of your medications.
6. Check your medications for any drug-drug interactions. You can use a web site such as drugstore.com for this.
7. Keep a list of all of your current medical conditions and review the basic information about each of them. A site such as Mayo Clinic or Medicine Net are good, trustworthy sources for this review.
8. Start making a list of questions that you want your doctor to answer for you. If he doesn’t have time to answer all of them at the next visit, ask him if you can e mail them to him. If not, ask one or two at each visit until you get them all answered. If you can’t get him to address all of your questions in a satisfactory and timely fashion, consider getting another doctor who will.
Participatory medicine, working on an equal footing with your provider, in a partnership for your optimal health, is the only way you can get the most out of the health care system. So, get on the train before it leaves the station!
Your comments and dissenting opinions are always welcome.
*This blog post was originally published at eDocAmerica*
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