Physicians Must Make Patients Partners in Pursuit of Health

Joe Cantlupe, October 20, 2011

As a hospital patient, I had an earache and trouble sleeping. "We'll get you some medication," the nurse said.

I looked at the capsules in my hand. Then a dose of reality hit me. I remembered I was allergic to that particular over-the-counter cold medicine. They knew that. Didn't they?

Patient-error, avoided, thanks to the patient: me.

At that moment, I was a responsible patient, an easy catch. But of course, that's not always the case, with me or any other patient. Now, healthcare leaders are trying to catch up with the idea that patients have a responsibility to take care of their own health, whether it's being on top of their medications, getting more exercise, or eating right.

But providers have a role, too. It's not hand-holding, but initiating electronic systems and other educational approaches to help patients become partners in their care.

As I report in this month's HealthLeaders  Magazine, Peter Pronovost, MD, senior vice president at Johns Hopkins Medicine and the Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality in Baltimore, says health systems have a ways to go to help empower patients in the health care process. Most education that patients receive in hospitals is "completely inadequate," he says. "More and more, the private sector is working on educational tools for patients," he says.

Johns Hopkins has produced a video to encourage patient involvement, and is working on plans to make videos for patients to elaborate on their stories and needs.

Joe Cantlupe Joe Cantlupe is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media Online.Twitter


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