Dr. R. Bohmer of Harvard Business Business School says the roles of doctors and patients are changing as patients move toward more self-testing and self-treatment.
The role of patients has been transformed as well. Not long ago, they were still
relatively passive, ignorant of their condition, and dependent on the doctor’s
advice. But now they can choose self-testing for at least some conditions such
as diabetes, high blood pressure, and pregnancy. A small but determined cadre,
said Bohmer, are making rules-based decisions for themselves.
…a greater variety of products is emerging so that more patients can take more
control over their own health. (Compliance remains a very important issue,
Bohmer stressed.) Thanks to TV commercials, blues star B.B. King has popularized
the OneTouch blood glucose monitor, so diabetics can monitor and manage their
condition. The Health Hero Network, whose clients include the Veterans
Administration and the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, has tools and programs
for monitoring diabetes, asthma, post-acute care, and cardiovascular disease,
among other conditions. The morning-after pill, which is used elsewhere in the
world without a prescription but not yet in the U.S., could be used by women
here without need of a doctor if not for a regulatory—not scientific—hurdle,
The development of programs and tools for patients to take more control of
their health is based on "a very important new assumption about how competent
patients are," said Bohmer. The increase in knowledge specificity, thanks to a dramatic increase in clinical
studies over the past thirty years, he concluded, is "the engine moving
decision-making capability and therefore decision rights to the patient."
I’m not surprised. I’d guess with the spiraling up of health care costs and more payment burden on patients, people will be looking for a lot of alternative ways to get treatment. This might include more do-it-yourself health care and looking for support resources on the Net or even outside the US from practitioners in places like India.
So what role does that suggest for information providers like the ACS?