“The name of the game in ‘smart health’ is partnership between a smarter patient (and family member) and their ‘smarter’ healthcare team”
I lived in Spain for three and a half years. I was impressed with the doctors and their knowledge and dedication. Patients are offered quality care.
But in this digital age a well-meaning doctor is not enough, not in Spain, not in Europe. That’s because the patient and their close family members are seeking a voice in the care that is provided. They are looking for answers and increasingly, they are asking questions. Digital channels are at their fingertips. With serious illnesses where research is progressing – take lung cancer, for example – patients are learning the price of not knowing, of not asking, could be a shorter life. Or it could mean more side effects and a lower quality of life.
Admittedly, healthcare is expensive. But my view is that an empowered patient and family lowers cost. Adherence to a treatment plan is higher and adverse events and side effects are noted and communicated much earlier. When the patient and their caregivers are true partners isn’t that good for everyone?
Our work at PatientPower.info and PatientPower.eu (with a wealth of expert video interviews on cancer topics in Spanish) is our effort to satisfy the needs of today’s patient. We are not alone. Digital channels are proliferating and patients are learning they must play a greater role to have more confidence in a plan to get well or do better with a chronic condition. This consumerism in healthcare is coming.
Lessons to be learned
I am writing this from the U.S. where we have pharmaceutical ads on television and aggressive hospital marketing compete for patients. Certainly this is a different system. But there are still lessons to be learned: patients will seek information to be more in control. It’s natural. And now there are channels available to them to help them do that. Medical societies and governments can try to limit what patients know or what they can have access to. For example, patients are not allowed in most medical convention exhibit halls in Europe. But my community of patient advocates have been pushing a “Patients IN not OUT” campaign and sooner or later we will win.
The European Community wants patients to be more health literate and money is being spent to help do that. The name of the game in ‘smart health’ is partnership between a smarter patient (and family member) and their “smarter” healthcare team. I see it coming and it is essential, even the most conservative people in healthcare adjust and welcome it.
Andrew Schorr , founder and Director at Patient Power
Andrew Schorr is a medical journalist who was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) in 1996 and has remained in remission since then. In 2011 he was diagnosed with a second cancer, myelofibrosis. He is managing the disease and has a good quality of life thanks to a state-of-the art medication. He is the founder of PatientPower.info, PatientPower.eu and Health Talk.
He is board chair of the Patient Empowerment Foundation in Europe (PEF). He is also the author of The Web-Savvy Patient: An Insider's Guide to Navigating the Internet When Facing Medical Crisis (2011) and his story has been featured in the New York Times. Andrew and his wife Esther are advisors in the Cancer Moonshot initiative leaded by US Vice President Joe Biden.
Patient Power® is a service of Patient Power, LLC, based in Seattle with team members around the world. Patient Power was founded by two health communications pioneers, Andrew and Esther Schorr. They previously founded HealthTalk.com, a leader in support for people with chronic illnesses and cancer. Patient Power® is devoted to helping the cancer patient or survivor and their family through knowledge, to get the best medicine and return to or maintain good health.