Wednesday 4 February 2009

The Wisdom of Patients

How can we best capture the wisdom, knowledge and insight of patients to shape the delivery of healthcare?

"The Wisdom of Patients: Health Care Meets Online Social Media", Jane Sarasohn-Kahn's engaging and well-informed report (full text available at the link), details how innovative collaborations online are changing the way patients, providers, and researchers learn about therapeutic regimens and disease management, as well as making ever more informed and pro-active choices about their care.

Including an extensive listing of health media resources and examples of best practice, the report makes it clear that it is now not just the "technologically savvy" who are generating and sharing content. The collective wisdom harnessed by internet social media "can yield insights well beyond the knowledge of any single patient or physician", writes report author Jane Sarasohn-Kahn.

According to the report, the growing expectation of patients for transparency will drive the evolution and rapid uptake of social media in health. The author concludes that the ongoing demands of a "consumer-driven health marketplace" (patient choice in the UK?) will inspire innovation in applications that integrate clinical...and ratings information.

Although a US-focused report, all the principles apply just as much to patients (and providers) in the UK. It will be interesting to see which UK organisations are first to see the potential of this shift in culture, and how they create new ways to engage with, learn from and inform their public and patients.

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