E-Health & Participatory Medicine
There has been a quiet but steady movement in the healthcare industry for about 10 years or so now, which is only going to continue to grow and expand. With the passing of the Affordable Care Act, it is absolutely the wave of the future in Western healthcare and medicine, in my view.
It’s called e-health, and it means what the term implies: healthcare practice supported by electronic processes and communication. Whether we like it or not, technology, the Internet, and social media are here to stay. It is, without question, the functional foundation of our entire society, and our healthcare system is certainly no different.
I actually find this new industry fascinating, and full of promise for women’s health. I also see the melding of e-health with another healthcare industry which is beginning to gather momentum as well: participatory medicine.
Participatory medicine is defined as “a movement in which networked patients shift from being mere passengers to responsible drivers of their health, and in which medical care providers encourage and value them as full partners.” Without question, a drum which I have been beating for quite some time now, when it comes to women’s hormone health.
Taking personal responsibility for our health is not an easy path to navigate for many of the baby-boomer generation. After all, when we were young, medicine was structured in such a way that the “doctor knew best” and we trusted his or her guidance implicitly.
It’s not that we will no longer trust the expertise and guidance of our physicians going forward, however. It is that the balance of power in the relationship is shifting in such a way that it is becoming more equal.
Frankly, it’s about time.
Chalk it up to my child-of-the-60s-rebellious-nature, but I have held the opinion for quite some time that healthcare patients, and especially women, are far more in tune and in touch with their health and what is happening in their body than healthcare providers often give them credit for.
I hear the frustration on a near daily basis from women who feel patronized, dismissed, and condescended to when they seek help for their perimenopause symptoms.
So while this transition into a new healthcare model might prove to be bumpy, and a bit confusing for a while, I feel certain that the shift to a more mutual respect between physician and patient, along with the participatory relationship, will not only improve the quality of our healthcare, but will also remove the frustration and powerlessness so many women feel when they turn to the medical community for help with perimenopause.
So really, how bad can it be?
Magnolia Miller is a certified healthcare consumer advocate in women's health and a women's freelance health writer and blogger at The Perimenopause Blog.