TED Conversations

e-Patient Dave deBronkart

Change Advocate for Participatory Medicine / Let Patients Help, Society for Participatory Medicine


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"WHY is the patient the most under-used resource in healthcare?? How did that happen?" (Follow-up to LIVE TED Conversation July 27)

"e-Patient Dave" deBronkart is an advocate for patients being "E": empowered, engaged in their care, equipped, enabled, educated, etc. As described in his talk from TEDx Maastricht, he beat a near-fatal cancer, supplementing his great medical care by using the internet in every way possible.

Today, as blog manager and volunteer co-chair of the Society for Participatory Medicine, he has studied the social, technical and sometimes political factors that make healthcare ignore the potential of patients contributing to their care.

In his TEDTalk, he quotes senior physicians who have said for decades that patients are the most under-utilized resource in healthcare.

Why is that? How did it get to be that way? Is change valid? Why now, and not 20 years ago? And what can we do about it?

Watch the talk, and come back to discuss. *Your family* will be affected someday.

ADMIN EDIT: e-Patient Dave has requested that we keep this conversation open for 1 week. After 2pm ET July 27, he will periodically check in to answer questions and respond to comments.

Topics: Healthcare

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    Jul 27 2011: I haven't had time to read all comments but I wonder if one of the reasons patients are under-utilized as a resource is because they are ILL? People who are in pain, fatigued, depressed, etc. are in no position to be empowered and informed. They may struggle to find the energy, concentration, and stamina needed to educate and diagnose themselves, not to mention stand up to a doctor and convince them to take note and pay attention. The worst kinds of rare, lingering, chronic and wasting diseases are difficult to diagnose and really take a lot out of the patient. It should be the doctor's job to investigate what is wrong, with caring, compassion and competence.
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      Jul 27 2011: Hi Kris - great point (patients being ill), but it's not the point of THIS question. Even patients who are in great shape are generally underutilized, AND sick people who WANT to be involved are often downplayed.

      Plus, I point out in the TED Talk that patient is a collective noun: I don't just mean the sick person, I mean all their family and caregivers who are on the receiving end of care.

      I've even heard from some DOCTORS who have a disease that THEY have been dissed by THEIR doctors.

      There seems to be an assumption, running through many parts of our culture, that NO VALUE can possibly come from anyone other than a specialist on a topic. And that's wrong.

      If you haven't done so yet, watch the video (the TED talk in this conversation's profile). My true story, and parts of two others - an empowered patient and the wife of a patient who didn't make it.
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      Jul 27 2011: True if you are ill you might not have the energy or stamina to find out things for yourself. But as Dave says you might have a loved one or family. And if you don't maybe we should make empowerment coaches available for patients.
      They might be a good idea especially when dealing with multiple doctors and/or disciplines.
    • Jul 28 2011: excellent - astute and true! thanks

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