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Patients as healthcare providers?

Posted Nov 18 2008 12:13am

Patients as healthcare providers?: " Enabling new technologies works both ways in allowing patients and physicians to interact in new ways. For physicians, that means the ability to empower patients by helping them become more informed, involved, and in-tune with their own health. Just as the use of mid-level providers served as an eff ective extension of the physician, many of these new technologies can push outsourcing of care all the way down to the patient. In this paradigm, the patient becomes another provider, perhaps a much more accurate and appropriate description of the term primary provider.

David S. Sobel, MD, MPH, Medical Director of Patient Education and Health Promotion for The Permanente Medical Group at Kaiser Permanente, is responsible for 3.3 million members who interact with the Kaiser system and has a simple mantra for success: “Keep the patients healthy, happy, and at home.” Beyond the trite saying is a powerful philosophy about patient empowerment. Namely, Sobel considers his patients as providers and collaborators in the care process. “Patients are most often viewed as consumers of healthcare, and health professionals are seen as the primary healthcare providers” Sobel says. “In fact, 70 to 90% of all symptoms are self-diagnosed and self-treated".

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