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Participation is changing the face of modern medicine


All signs point that this more engaging means of health care treatment is just what the patient ordered.

More than just a paradigm shift, the advent of Participatory Medicine has come about, like many great revolutions, with people who dared to challenge the status quo.

While there have been dramatic changes in traditional roles and responsibilities, this new approach has largely helped to make health care more engaging and more robust.

Within more traditional health care structures such as New Zealand’s District Health Boards, new positions that never would have existed in the past, such as Waitemata’s Director of Patient Experience, have been created to ensure patients’ voices are heard loud and clear.

Within the same DHB revised organisation values have been articulated to reinforce changing attitudes. Including promulgating the concept that everyone matters in delivering for the patient rather than to.

The international Society for Participatory Medicine says the state of knowledge, plus the impact of the new phenomenon of e-patients on the healthcare system and the quality of care received indicates:
  • A growing number of people say the Internet played a crucial or important role as they helped another person cope with a major illness. Many clinicians underestimated the benefits and overestimated the risks of online health resources for patients.
  • Medical online support groups are an important healthcare resource.
  • “…the Net friendliness of clinicians and provider organizations—as rated by the e-patients they serve—is becoming an important new aspect of healthcare quality.”
  • According to one study, the advent of patients as partners is one of the most important cultural medical revolutions of the past century.
  • In order to understand the impact of the e-patient, clinicians will likely need to move beyond "pre-internet medical constructs."
  • Medical education must adapt to take the e-patient into account, and to prepare students for medical practice that includes the e-patient.
  • A 2011 study of European e-patients found that they tended to be "inquisitive and autonomous" and that they noted that the number of e-patients in Europe appeared to be rising.
  • A 2012 study found that e-patients uploading videos about their health experienced a loss of privacy, but also positive benefits from social support.
  • Furthermore, a 2017 study utilizing social network analysis found that when e-patients are included in health care conferences, they increase information flow, expand propagation, and deepen engagement in the ‘Twittersphere’ when compared to both physicians and researchers while only making up 1.4% of the stakeholder mix.
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Date published: 18 October 2018

Review Date: 18 October 2022