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Great Article on Transforming Patient Safety By Engaging Patients & Families

Posted Nov 29 2010 4:21am

This post is about a great article I read recently by ePatientDave. The article is about how we can dramatically improve patient safety if we shift to “a shared care plan model, with patients and families aware of the plan and engaged in its execution.” This is a really smart article. Before I tell you more, you need to know about the author.

If you aren’t familiar with ePatient Dave (Dave deBronkart), he is a blogger, speaker, analyst, and co-chair of the Society for Participatory Medicine ( www.ePatientDave.com ). Dave has an interesting story that gives important context to his commentary on healthcare. According to the bio on his website, he was diagnosed in January 2007 with Stage IV, Grade 4 renal cell carcinoma (kidney cancer) at a very late stage. His median survival time at diagnosis was just 24 weeks; with tumors in both lungs, several bones, and muscle tissue, his prognosis was “grim,” as one web site described it. He received great treatment at Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center: his surgeon removed the extensive mess (laparoscopically!), and the Biologic Therapy program helped him participate in a clinical trial for the powerful but severe High Dosage Interleukin-2 (HDIL-2). His last treatment was July 23, 2007, and by September it was clear he’d beaten the disease. His remaining lesions have continued to shrink. I follow Dave on Twitter – http://Twitter.com/ePatientDave .  Patient Safety & Quality Health, November/December 2010. ( http://www.psqh.com )

Dave starts out his article by pointing to the lack of progress in the healthcare industry tacking issues like safety and cost:

“I view it (healthcare) through another lens, too: as a hightech business person who’s watched industries evolve for years, it grips me that this miraculous industry has made so little progress on cost or safety—despite immense efforts by really smart people.”

He goes on to point out the obvious flaw in our current system:

“I assert we’re making a fundamental error when we expect clinicians to know and do everything, and we pay a heavy price (literally and figuratively) for this mistake. We should share the load: enlist patients and families in making healthcare better.”

This article is so smart, and straight forward. It just makes so much sense, particularly given the changes we’ve seen in the last few years with patients actively coming together in online communities while accessing sophisticated (not perfect) health information online. Patients are more involved in seeking out information. This looks like the ideal time to adopt a model that embraces the empowerment and inclusion of the ePatient. I strongly recommend that you read Dave’s article. I could never really do it justice in a blog post. It is that well done.

Post by Dan Dunlop, The Healthcare Marketer


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