In a post earlier this week on e-patients.net, Victor Montori, M.D., interim medical director for the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media, described his reasons for joining the Society for Participatory Medicine. Here's an excerpt:
The civil rights movement has not finished its job. In the list of people who are routinely oppressed today we find patients. I have come to understand that physicians, and I am one, oppress patients not willingly, not deliberately, not intentionally. Oppression of patients is also the result of actions by healthcare administrators, payers, pharma, device manufacturers, and governments, perhaps often unwillingly. At its simplest, oppression (and coercion, and injustice) results from patients staying in the dark about their own health state, their available options and the relative merits of each, the extent to which services can flexibly meet their needs, and the extent to which uncertainty, ignorance, and impotence remain part and parcel of modern medicine.
I invite you to read the rest of his post, which helps also provide the context for formation of the Center for Social Media.
By helping to accelerate adoption of social media within healthcare, the center aims to empower patients to get access to the information they need so they can advocate for themselves.
Many medical observers, including our former Mayo Clinic CEO, have lamented the slow pace of change in the health care system, and that on average it takes 17 years for research findings to become incorporated broadly in day-to-day patient care.
Through the center we want to help information about new research findings to spread more quickly and be more accessible to health care professionals, and to make it easier for them to connect and collaborate. Using these social media "power tools" for communication will improve the efficiency and effectiveness of health care organizations, and also will enable productive research and education connections throughout the health care system.
But we also want to increase direct access to the information for informed and empowered patients. By increasing participation in social media by physicians, scientists and other medical professionals, we will help the "oppressed" patients Dr. Montori describes.
In launching the center, Dr. Montori described the thinking of Mayo Clinic's physician leaders:
Through the center, we will be increasing the amount of in-depth information about diseases and conditions Mayo Clinic makes available to patients via social platforms, and we're inviting other medical professionals -- whether individually or through their organizations -- to join us in this commitment.
In the coming weeks we will be announcing formation of a global network dedicated to productive application of social tools to improve health and health care. If you would like more information about becoming part of the network, contact us by email.