Brian Vartabedian MD runs a blog called 33Charts that tracks the convergence of social media and medicine. In a recent post he underlines the importance of sustained contact with people outside the health “silo”.
My beef with social health is that most who take part spend most of their time speaking only with one another. Last year at Blog World Expo during dinner with a group of health bloggers I sheepishly confessed that I had sneaked out of the health track to hear Steve Rubel speak. None of them had ever heard of Steve Rubel. And after hearing who he was they couldn’t understand what I could learn from him.
This is unfortunate. Innovation in health will come from outside the health silo. Many of the problems we face as physicians, patients and health administrators have been tackled in the financial and consumer industry, for example. Operating rooms have even learned efficiency from the Formula One Pit Crew.
“An empowered patient is someone who has figured out that healthcare is no longer best practiced in a paternalistic and beneficent way,” says Trisha Torrey, author of the blog Every Patient’s Advocate. “It means taking responsibility and collaborating with doctors to make the best decisions for you.” An empowered patient, she says, isn’t afraid to ask questions, seek second opinions, search for information online and—in some cases—question (without challenging) the doctor’s orders.
On her blog, Trisha Torrey has a post that indicates why ehealth is so important. It’s the story of Regina Holliday, whose husband Fred died died of cancer last year at the age of 39. She has produced a mural called “Give Us Our Damned Data“.
Among the horrors of their journey was the fact that Fred was transferred from one hospital to another – without his medical records. With no records, Fred could not be treated. Regina attempted to get the records transferred, including returning to the first hospital to try to transport them herself. Instead she was repeatedly stonewalled. Ultimately she was told that she could return to pick up the records in 21 days, and it would cost her 73 cents per page.