CBORD Explains: Participatory Medicine

Participatory medicine is a model of medical care that aims to close the gap between the healthcare provider and the patient through collaboration and patient engagement in their own health plan. This model requires equal access to all of the patient data and equal rights in the decision-making process, understanding that the collective knowledge of the entire care team, the patient, patient groups, and social networks provides the most ethical and effective approach to treating the patient.

A Brief History

While the principles of participatory medicine were incorporated to varying extents in healthcare in the past, many experts reference the 1999 Institute of Medicine report, "To Err is Human: Building a Safer Health System," as the foundation of this movement. A year later, the Institute of Medicine published "Crossing the Quality Chasm: A New Health System for the 21st Century," which identified patient-centered care as 1 of the 6 areas for improvement, and recommended that information technology play a vital role in the redesign of the healthcare system.

There were many advocates who were central to the participatory medicine movement gaining momentum. Two of these included: Dr. Tom Ferguson whose goal was to encourage medical professionals to treat clients as equal partners in achieving better outcomes; and Dave deBronkart who was diagnosed with advanced kidney cancer (median survival 24 weeks) in 2007, but rapidly learned to use every aspect of empowerment, technology, and participatory medicine to beat the odds and has since worked to share this knowledge internationally.

Building on this foundation, the Society of Participatory Medicine was founded in 2009 and the Journal of Participatory Medicine launched in October 2009.

Technology's Role Moving Forward

This is an exciting time for health professionals and organizations, with the future limited only by our imagination and enthusiasm. We are in a position to determine how our healthcare will look in 2050, but it will require Health Information Technology (HIT) understanding, education, and engagement.

Leveraging technology to support participatory medicine can be highly effective in achieving the desired outcomes of an organization, health-professional, and ultimately the patient. With the participatory medicine agenda driven by patient outcomes, technology solutions will provide opportunities for healthcare organizations to reinvent and reorient services in ways they haven't previously been able to, with the bonus of cost savings potential.

Technology of all kinds, including email, electronic health records, patient portals, social networking sites and home monitoring devices, can fit into the participatory medicine model, allowing patients be become engaged in their healthcare. CBORD software for managing patient selections and monitoring nutritional intake is a perfect example of engaging patients. Room Service Choice® allows Food or Nutrition Assistants to interact directly with patients at the bedside guiding them through their diet-appropriate menu selections. Room Service Concero® allows the patient to independently make their own menu selections whenever it suits them. In addition to the software modules for taking patient menu selections, Room Service delivery allows patients to order and receive meals within a short period of time—hotel style, meeting the patient's appetite and preferences at meal time, rather than the traditional 24 hours in advance.

This movement provides an opportunity for holistic healthcare—engaging the patient allows for consideration of their emotional and spiritual needs, which in a traditional medical model may be overlooked by the physical needs.

The Patient is Key

Patient engagement and participation in their own health plan aims to improve patient outcomes, reduce medical errors, increase patient satisfaction, and improve the cost of care.

As healthcare organizations experience increasing pressure to control costs and improve patient outcomes, it will become apparent that patients can be the most cost-effective and valuable tools to assist in their own healthcare plan. The goal of participatory medicine is to enhance the physician-patient relationship and allow both parties to bring their own expertise and knowledge to the table. This will ultimately produce the best healthcare plan and consequently the best outcomes.