Monday, August 3, 2009

Participatory Medicine: Now is the Time to Make Your Move!

Participatory Medicine is a cooperative model of health care that encourages and expects active involvement by all connected parties (health care professionals, patients, caregivers, etc.)

When patients are aware of such things as their weight, BMI, blood pressure, recent key laboratory results, and so on, and when they come to the office motivated and prepared, outcomes are likely to be much better. The patient who passively waits for advice and direction from the physician is more likely to forget instructions, make excuses for failures, lack the discipline to lose the needed weight or stay on the required diet, and so forth.

Patients themselves, not their doctors, must be the ones to make the essential decisions about their health. They must be able to obtain the necessary information to make key decisions, then act on them.

How does this process happen? A patient may agree with this statement and want to begin to operate in this mode, but not know how to do it. Here is a short list of the essential steps necessary to begin the practice of participatory medicine:

1. If possible, find a physician who understands, and supports, this concept, including one who is willing to communicate with you by e mail and directly answer your phone calls.

2. Consider the option of using a service like edocamerica, that is dedicated to providing you with the information necessary to make decisions about your own health care. They can supplement your physician and are available to you 24/7 and always welcome your questions. Moreover, they are dedicated the concept of PM and are oriented towards health and wellness, not just managing your diseases.

3. Start following blog and twitter posts by persons who are now actively discussing how Participatory Medicine is going to change the way health care is practiced.

4. Keep a current list of your medications, including the Brand name, generic name, dose and frequency of each one.

5. Look up the most common side effects of each of your medications.

6. Check your medications for any drug-drug interactions. You can use a web site such as for this.

7. Keep a list of all of your current medical conditions and review the basic information about each of them. A site such as Mayo Clinic or Medicine Net are good, trustworthy sources for this review.

8. Start making a list of questions that you want your doctor to answer for you. If he doesn't have time to answer all of them at the next visit, ask him if you can e mail them to him. If not, ask one or two at each visit until you get them all answered. If you can't get him to address all of your questions in a satisfactory and timely fashion, consider getting another doctor who will.

Participatory medicine, working on an equal footing with your provider, in a partnership for your optimal health, is the only way you can get the most out of the health care system. So, get on the train before it leaves the station!

Your comments and dissenting opinions are always welcome.

1 comment:

Zachary Smith said...

Dr. Smith;

As a not rich American, I cannot fathom how I can find and develop a relationship with a doctor who is into Participatory Medicine. Witness how extremely difficult it is to shop for medical care by price, now try to imagine shopping by ideology. How do I find a Family Practice Doctor in my county who takes my insurance and entertains my ideas about PM?