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Trisha Torrey

How Participatory Are You?

By January 27, 2010

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Empowered patients are participatory patients; that means we take an active role in decision-making about our health and medical care. Last fall I described "participatory medicine" to you in a bit more detail, but that's the basis -- YOUR active role in making your own decisions, based on the knowledge you can accumulate about your medical problem.

One major hurdle has been this: while many of us patients truly want to participate in our own care, we're not finding a great deal of cooperation from the others who must participate - our providers.

Some providers get it! In fact, some are very cooperative, offering knowledge, learning materials, assistance, discussion. They are the enlightened ones who realize that two heads -- theirs and their patients (us!) will always be more effective than one.

So what does it take to convince even more providers that participatory medicine is a valuable tool? A major step in that direction was taken recently when an article appeared in the American Medical Association's newsletter. It describes the concept, the benefits, how doctors can begin using a participatory model in their practices, and some tools they can use (mostly technology based) to integrate participation in their practices.

Is your doctor participatory? Do you find your doctor willing to partner with you and work with you to make decisions?

While I usually discourage patients from taking print outs of Web information to their doctors, I'm going to make an exception here -- it's that important and that different:

  • For doctors you think ARE participatory -- take a copy of this article to them with THANK YOU written on it. Let them know how much you appreciate their collaboration.

  • For doctors you believe ARE NOT participatory, or are only partially so -- take a copy of this article with (something like) PLEASE CONSIDER THIS PRACTICE MODEL written on it -- it will provide not just the idea, but the road map for getting started, too.

Let us know how it goes! -- and while you're here, please take this poll -- share your assessment of your relationship with the doctor you work with most.

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Learn more or join the conversation!


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February 2, 2010 at 10:07 am
(1) Father Daniel Beegan says:

My two key physicians, my PCP and my pulmonologist, are both participatory, in part because they recognize me as an educated medical consumer. We generally discuss treatment and both doctors have changed their minds based on discussions.

I know I am fortnate to have them.

A point to be made _ a doctor must be sure of herself or himself in order to be participatory. Doctors whose medical knowledge is weak want to do cookbook medicine and rely on information stored on their PDAs. I fired one like that once.

The Very Rev. Canon Daniel P.H. Beegan

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