Wall Street Journal goes e-Patient

Where have we heard this story before?

A friend of mine slipped on the sidewalk recently and broke her hip. She had surgery in one of the best hospitals in the country.

But it [wasn’t their staff, it] was her grown daughter who noticed that she was having an adverse reaction to a pain medication. And that her IV drip had pulled out of a vein and was pumping her arm full of fluid. And that the hot compresses to reduce the swelling in her arm had left blisters on her skin. And that the blood-sugar test she was about to be given was meant for her roommate instead.

We’ve heard it in the white paper. (See links at top right of this blog; contribute to the wiki if you want.)

We’ve heard it here, in our (growing) collection of e-patient stories.

As awareness of the e-patient movement grows, it’s important to understand that this isn’t a monolithic rant about “hospitals can’t be trusted to do anything right.” This movement is much deeper and broader than that.

  • I mentioned in June that there are different kinds of e-patient stories. Patients have much to offer in today’s health world, in every situation including the best care. (Please read that, if you haven’t. It’s short, and there’s no point being empowered and ignorant.)
  • Chapter 2 of the white paper (synopsis here, full wiki here) presents seven preliminary conclusions from the e-patient team’s work under Tom Ferguson‘s leadership. (That work was done years before I showed up.) Those conclusions are, as I say, much richer and deeper than a single issue.

But the Journal’s article is absolutely consistent with, and representative of, the reality that we do talk about: participatory medicine is the wave of the future. It helps everyone and hurts noone.

In our talk today at the Connected Health Symposium in Boston, my MD (and fellow e-patients member) Danny Sands and I concluded with the advice, “Embrace knowledge symmetry.” Do it.

Patients and families, you may wish that doctors and nurses could do it all, but as the white paper details at length, that’s not the way it is. (Study the paper before you jump to conclusions.) Learn to collaborate; learn about participatory medicine.

(Thanks to Stephen Owades for the tip.)
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