What do I want from the Society for Participatory Medicine?


From my blog comment at What do YOU want from the Society for Participatory Medicine? by e-Patient Dave on February 26, 2010

I would like to see the SPM focus on the patient as “team leader”, with their advocates, their physicians, and other healthcare professionals as team members dedicated to better patient outcomes.

The team needs ways to easily and efficiently come together to review progress, treatment, alternatives, new evidence, etc., at appropriate intervals.

I would like to see SPM work on how to overcome the barriers to teamwork, how to prove that teamwork leads to better outcomes and provide guidance and tools to facilitate teamwork.

The informed and empowered patient is ready to embrace team leadership. But the less Internet savvy patients need to be reached out to and educated. They need to know that it’s not about mastering every new technology gadget, it’s about taking control of decisions and getting what they need.

And there are barriers to getting participation from physicians. As everybody knows, doctors can’t bill for phone calls. But most still make them, the good ones, anyway. And many communicate electronically with patients. What if it was faster, easier and more effective to communicate as part of a multidisciplinary conference? Certainly there are some doctors who will never join Health 2.0, out of inertia and/or lack of time and/or lack of reimbursement. But attitudes could be changed if the benefits could be demonstrated, in terms of outcomes, time and money.

Hospitalist physicians (those taking care of inpatients) are just now beginning to institute a multidisciplinary team approach to the care of hospitalized patients. From the February ACP Hospitalist, copyright © 2010 by the American College of Physicians  is this article discussing how daily meetings between physicians, nurses and social workers improves outcomes for patients and describes the implementation of procedures to improve communication on inpatient services in St. Louis, San Francisco and Philadelphia. These kinds of programs take the dedication of the team members and are just now being implemented in the inpatient setting in hospitals in this country.
My favorite quote: “Good Communication Doesn’t Just Happen”.

If doctors are just starting to meet with nurses and social workers in the inpatient setting, it can be no wonder that a team approach, including the patient, in the outpatient setting can seem far-fetched. But, it shouldn’t.

Participatory medicine may have developed because medical information became more available via the Internet, but participatory medicine should be more about changing attitudes than changing technologies. It should be about bringing patients, doctors, advocates and other healthcare professionals together for better patient outcomes. The SPM is perfectly positioned to educate these stakeholders, study various formats, tools and methods of collaboration and communication, and hopefully to prove that the participation of all these stakeholders leads to better patient outcomes.


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