Patients R Us

Several hundred patients gathered at the Hilton Union Station in San Francisco last week to give voice to what is being called the New Patient — the network patient.  From blogs, RSS feeds, Im’ing, and e-scrips, there appears to be an app for that to keep patients informed about their health and treatment choices.  Jane Sarasohn-Kahn covers the specifics and is worth a read.  For example, Health Central has 14 million visitors per month to their site, all patients looking for a community of knowlege.  There was also a provider/patient who suggested every physician establish a “patient advisory council” to periodically advise him/her on their practice and.

As a person living with a chronic health condition (heart disease), what I find missing in these discussions is the view that all of us are patients.  Patients are not some subset of the American population standing across the room we have to whisper about — they are us, all of us.

We are all patients at one time or another in the health care system whether it’s negotiating a denied claim, finding the right doctor for our children, reading the back of an OTC label, or simply getting the flu shot.  Persons who identifiy themselves as patient advocates set themselves apart because they are the leaders, the thought-generators who help frame the issues.  But at the end of the day, we are all in this together and the services and treatment — whether with more useable data or a community support group — are common to us all.

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