Traditionally, a "prescription" meant a piece of paper that got you a vial of pills or other medication you were meant to take until your next meeting with your doctor. Today, health professionals increasingly recognize that LEARNING is part of the prescription -— if you want people to thrive with their condition, that is.
The Health 2.0 conference I attended last week was all about different approaches to this topic: how do patients best learn to manage their chronic illness —- or if they have no conditions, how do they best learn to do what needs to be done to maintain their good health?
The focal "great debate" at this event was —-
* the Health 2.0 approach: patients independent use of interactive web technologies,
- versus something called
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* Information Therapy: the practice of doctors prescribing and/or making available "evidence-based health information to meet individuals' specific needs and support sound decision making"
In other words, Health 2.0 is a grassroots-up approach to patients learning, versus Ix therapy, which is physician and institution-driven.
Both of these are useful and necessary if you ask me. After all, blogs and social networks are great for self-motivated patients who seek them out, but lots of people still don't know about them or feel empowered to give them a try.
Ix Therapy can be a nice catalyst to make those unconnected patients aware of these tools, and to push more inert patients into becoming more proactive. (Wouldn't it be neat if physicians would actually tell people newly diagnosed with diabetes about our online communities and how they can help?!)
But my point was that simply having doctors point patients to some studies or emailing them some data sheets is not enough. Not nearly enough! True learning comes from personal involvement, as Confucius says:
These cocktail napkins were my somewhat cheeky contribution to the event, served during Thursday's afternoon break. Nothing like watching people wipe their mouths with your cherished wisdom ;)
Meanwhile, myself and the handful of other model "empowered patient" types present at the conference were striving to make these business-folk and engineers understand what we want: tools that are super-easy to use and give us some real, tangible and useful outcomes. By that I mean, we don't need yet another "health records portal" where we're expected to manually enter every detail of our diabetic lives -— in the hopes that some health professional will review all this data at some unspecified point in the future.
btw, I'd like to say: kudos to these kindred spirits who've likewise turned their chronic illness into their life force --
Matthew Zachary, founder of the I'm Too Young for This cancer foundation
Win Hodges, family patient advocate
Susan Edgman-Levitan, prolific doctor patient advocate
Yipes! Obviously, being a proactive patient/advocate and seeking out a little knowledge goes a long way.