It appears the Washington Post is getting seriously interested in both the value of, and the consumer perspective on, health IT. This is a good thing, because (a) the whole purpose of healthcare is to take care of patients, (b) patients (that would be you) are the ultimate stakeholder, (c) no patient can contribute their best to their care if they can’t see the information, (d) nor can any doctor or nurse do what they’re trained to if they don’t have all the information, and (the good news) (e) we all can do better if we have the information.
This is not some crazy call-to-action from the fringes: it’s mainstream. I mean, three years ago the Institute of Medicine (the pinnacle of medicine in America) said medicine depends on “Patient-clinician partnerships” with “Engaged, empowered patients” and must be “anchored on patient needs and perspectives.” And, as my primary physician Dr. Danny Sands often says, “How can patients participate if they can’t see what I see?”
Tuesday’s Post has a pair of articles by Suzanne Levingston. I’m quoted in the first, and Dr. Sands is quoted in the second:
How is the doctor-patient relationship changing? It’s going electronic (above, ~1500 words) is a broad survey of how medicine’s landscape has altered because you and I have the internet, which means we can for the first time in history connect to two pivotal resources: information we could never see before, and each other. (My own story, including how the internet helped saved my life, is on my About page; it was also published in the British Medical Journal two years ago.)
There’s lots of health-care technology out there. How do you choose? (490 words – a sidebar, I presume) is a brief overview of the wide range of apps and info tools available today. As regular readers know, I view these tools as exactly analogous to the hundreds of desktop publishing tools that became available in its early years: examples of what can be done when data gets free, not all of which should be done, or even has any reason to get done.
But that’s the whole point: when information gets loose, innovators all over creation get to try things – at their own risk, with their own investment – and we-all out here get to make up our own minds about which of it is worth anything. The world shifts. As I’ve often said, “To innovators, data is fuel.” And I’ll never forget Todd Park (the US Chief Technical Officer) shouting from the stage, “Data Liberación!”
Also quoted in the bigger article are my respected colleagues Susannah Fox and Wendy Sue Swanson MD. Fox is widely felt in healthcare circles to be the wisest observer of what you and I actually do online (a debunker of many myths, with facts and heart), and Seattle pediatrician Swanson is almost legendary for her sober, reality-based, compassionate advice to parents in today’s ever-changing world.
Also cited is Dr. Eric Topol, who wrote the introduction to Let Patients Help, which I co-authored with Dr. Sands, and which is now in 7 languages (and a Chinese company just bought the rights). I’ve just finished reading Eric’s new book The Patient Will See You Now, which goes very very deep and wide into these articles’ topics. I hope to review it soon.
More later on why these realistic articles are important at this moment in time. Because just as with the rise of desktop publishing, and just as with Topol’s book, not everyone is happy with the coming change.