Editor's Note: Dave deBronkart's (aka, ePatientDave) connection with MCCSM spans years. It includes serving on our External Advisory Board as well as being in our first Platinum Fellow cohort. We were proud to have Dave announce his Visiting Professor appointment to the Mayo Clinic Department of Medicine during Social Media Week 2014. At last, Dave will arrive on Monday, March 23 for a whirlwind visit that features Grand Rounds on Wednesday plus meetings with Chief Residents and the entire residency class. Here, Dave writes about the role social media has played in changing the patient-physician relationship.
This post is about an issue I plan to address during my visit at Mayo Clinic: the changing role of the patient and how that change is significantly powered by social media. Creating the best possible future for both patients and clinicians depends on our understanding this clearly and formally, so we can agree about what’s possible, and then practice health and care accordingly. The image at right is an updated version of a slide I’ve used for years. First published by MCCSM Advisory Board member Lucien Engelen – in 2010! – this visionary graphic illustrates how the internet has altered the flow of information. When many of us were growing up, knowledge flowed within a truly closed system, but today it’s an open network of networks. Social media functions the way capillaries do in the body: information can flow around without centralized control. What was once never possible, is now essential. (See this simplified 50 second animated version of the diagram, first published by the BMJ.) To understand this new future for patients and clinicians, we have to rethink things…and I don’t just mean technologically. Most patients still don’t realize they can make real and valuable contributions, so, naturally, they haven’t worked at sharpening those skills. Nor do most clinicians realize that patient contributions and perspectives can be genuinely useful. Still, there’s new and ever-emerging evidence that the medical establishment is accepting this movement toward enhanced patient collaboration. In 2012, in its report, Best Care at Lower Cost, the Institute of Medicine identified this as one of the four pillars of a learning healthcare system:
Patient/Clinician Partnerships Engaged, empowered patients – A learning healthcare system is anchored on patient needs and perspectives and promotes the inclusion of patients, families, and other caregivers as vital members of the continuously learning care team. And this is why I’ve announced my plan to kick off a formal project to explore a key question: Is it time for us to define a new science of patient engagement? More specifically:
- Can we formally, methodically, rigorously identify what patients can now contribute to conversations about diagnosis and treatment that wasn’t possible or permissible in the past?
- Can we figure out why in some cases patient engagement leads to real improvements in outcomes and costs, while in others it fails?
People have a tendency sometimes to speak of social media as if it were a magical universe inside of which amazing things happen, but nobody’s sure quite what or how. I want to encourage people to think in concrete, specific terms about how valuable information truly flows to where it’s needed, because that is what makes new things possible – especially what makes possible the world of informed, empowered, engaged e-patients who truly are partners with the medical professionals.
Dave shares his thoughts about being named Visiting Professor:
Updated 3/28/15 - Here is the video from Dave's Grand Rounds Presentation: