Two roads ahead: “I fear to be a patient” vs. “Opportunities for Patient-Clinician Partnership”

Treat yourself to 3 minutes of Don Berwick’s 2009 speech on patient-centered care, which at a certain point becomes an elegy:

Now cheer yourself up with the latest article from the Journal of Participatory Medicine: “The Cancer Supportive Care Model: A Patient-Partnered Paradigm Shift in Health Care Delivery,” by Elias Anaissie and Tara Mink.

I have a special fondness for Table 2, which lays out elements of “patient dignity,” “patient empowerment,” and “patient safety.” (You know you’re a health geek when you start to see poetry in black-and-white gridlines.)

The patient stories section is also a gem. For example:

An empowered patient saves the day.
On December 27, 2010, a 25-year old male patient with Castleman’s disease was preparing to leave his hotel to take a flight home to North Carolina when he accessed the UAMS Patient Lab Portal system and identified significant abnormalities in his laboratory results. These results were still pending during his initial consult with the MIRT oncologist, preceding the decision to initiate therapy under the care of his local physician in North Carolina. Concerned, the patient canceled his flight and returned to MIRT for followup. Upon evaluation, it was determined that these abnormal results indicated a need for immediate initiation of a highly complex treatment regimen, and the patient had an excellent outcome.

And to round out This Week in Participatory Medicine, please read my other favorite article, which was highlighted on Twitter by Gilles Frydman:

A combination of giving patients more information about their conditions and better managing their medications can slow the revolving door of Medicare patients in and out of hospitals by about 20%, a study released Monday by Harvard University shows.

– “Better-informed patients can help cut costs, study shows” (USA Today, June 13, 2011). Press release (PDF).

What was the highlight of the week for you? You know, besides all the great stuff that’s been posted here on


Posted in: e-patient stories | hc's problem list | JoPM | Why PM





8 Responses to “Two roads ahead: “I fear to be a patient” vs. “Opportunities for Patient-Clinician Partnership””

  1. Thanks, Susannah. (And Gilles.)

    I would like to sit with every politician who opposed Berwick’s appointment last year (to run Medicare), as they watch this 3 minute clip, and see what they think. Really.

  2. Nick Dawson says:

    Wonderful post – I like your compare and contrast and sincerely hope optimism always wins out. Clearly, and thanks to efforts of ePatients and advocates everywhere, the pendulum is swinging towards patient centered care. What a positive trend!

    • e-Patient Dave says:

      Hey Nick – what do you see in the world out there that suggests the pendulum is moving?

      (heh, I’d rather see the mountain move, not the pendulum, because mountains tend to stay put. :–) )

  3. Oh Susannah! What a wonderful post.

    Thank you, too, for the beautiful and brilliant Berwick clip. What he describes so poetically and poignantly as the indignity of being a patient should be – IMHO – the basis of a Patients’ Bill of Rights.

    Although not nearly as eloquent or expansive as Berwick, some of his observations are echoed in 5 Steps to a Patient Centered Hospital:


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