I recently found out about a new organization that promotes better dialog between health care professionals and their patients. The Society for Participatory Medicine is open to both practitioners and individuals. I decided to join myself, even though the group has just started and there were only 155 members when I completed my application.
You can read more about it yourself at http://participatorymedicine.org/ , but I found these excerpts particularly interesting:
"Participatory Medicine is a cooperative model of health care that encourages and expects active involvement by all connected parties (patients, caregivers, healthcare professionals, etc.) as integral to the full continuum of care. The 'participatory' concept may also be applied to fitness, nutrition, mental health, end-of-life care, and all issues broadly related to an individual's health.
The Society was founded to learn about and promote Participatory Medicine through writing, speaking, social networking, and other channels." I was particularly intrigued with this "Declaration of Participation:"
"Thomas Jefferson had a radical notion: When the people are well-informed, they can be trusted to govern themselves. This powerful idea worked to end our rule by the King, but at the time it didn't apply to slaves and it didn't apply to women. It STILL doesn't apply to patients. And it should.
Organized in 2009, the Society for Participatory Medicine will build on the work started last century by Tom Ferguson MD, creator of the e-Patients Scholars Working Group. "Doc Tom" saw that the internet would give us access to information and access to each other, and with that combination, we the people could be well-informed enough to become potent partners with our health professionals.
Today we declare a new era: the era of Participatory Medicine. Join us."
The site includes a blog, and announces the new Journal of Participatory Medicine which intends to publish research on the effects of cooperative decision-making in health care outcomes. There is a list of both provider and consumer members (now including me) posted on the site too.
This is like a breath of fresh air and I hope the concept catches on. There are too many health care practitioners who are not engaging in open dialog with their patients and too many patients who are not actively involved in making decisions about their care.