Patient Heal Thyself

Crounse_2006 by Matthew Barrick compressed

I’ve written and lectured extensively on worldwide health trends, one of which is “increasing personal responsibility”.  In both private and public health systems there is growing recognition that we must do a better job engaging our patients in the the quest to lower healthcare costs and soften the toll of chronic disease.  Depending on the health system and how healthcare is financed, this may include putting some patients at greater financial risk for poor health behaviors, or creating tax incentives or other rewards that will encourage people to lead healthier lifestyles.  Besides the pressing need to reign in healthcare costs, there is increasing concern about a shortage of qualified healthcare professionals to meet the demands of a growing elderly and world population.

One of my Microsoft colleagues in Europe, Dr. Octavian Purcarea, recently brought to my attention a rather unique approach towards getting patients to “take on more responsibility” for their care while lessening demand for services.  He writes:

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Talking about new business models – I have met with the Chairman of HIT Telecom from Kuwait who is also a doctor and director of a private clinic. They are trying to make a real revolution because, according to them, even with all the IT resources and telemedicine – the demand for qualified healthcare will be higher than they can offer. As a new approach, his clinic is training chronic patients for 3 months by giving them courses in anatomy, physiology, semiology, and pathology. Then the patients undergo a very tough theoretical and practical exam which will give them a certification allowing them to refill their prescriptions, modify their medications and avoid medical encounters. Moreover, they are able to treat other patients with the same disease. According to his preliminary observations, the economic impact is huge – with 40% reductions in cost and complications.

The message seems to be, “Patient heal thyself!” (and once trained to do so, perhaps help heal some others too).  Maybe this isn’t such a bad idea in a world struggling to pay for, and provide care for, all those who need it.image

Next week I’ll be at the World of Health IT in Copenhagen, Denmark, where I’ll be delivering a keynote address at the WOHIT Physician Symposium on November 3rd.  I hope to see some of you there.

Bill Crounse, MD      Senior Director, Worldwide Health    Microsoft Corporation

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