I’ve had an interest in internet use among pregnant women for a while. It’s pretty remarkable to think about the access women have to information and collective wisdom and the potential that holds for their empowerment and informed decision making.
Although I had envisioned some pretty nifty things we could do with the internet to improve maternity care, I had my mind pretty well blown recently when I came across a white paper called e-Patients: How They Can Help Heal Healthcare. The paper, the brainchild of a truly visionary doctor, introduces a new web-powered paradigm of healthcare in which patients are empowered, engaged, equipped, and enabled to improve their own health and the quality and safety of the care they receive. It also provides compelling evidence that this new paradigm is already revolutionizing health care in ways we couldn’t have envisioned just a decade ago. One of its prominent supporters recently wrote, “If you have not read the e-Patient White Paper, you do not understand the future of medicine.”
(With that said, those too busy to read the whole paper right now can get a glimpse of its significance by reading the authors’ seven preliminary conclusions, as summed up by one of the White Paper’s most outspoken advocates, Dave deBronkart.)
The White Paper contributors and advocates have recently organized as the Society for Participatory Medicine and I just became their first member from the maternity care community. Thus far, the work of the Society and its members has been decidedly disease-focused, but I see enormous potential to revolutionize maternity care by tapping into this rapidly developing field, learning from its leaders and innovators, and incorporating maternity care issues into ongoing work wherever appropriate. I was recently invited to write a guest post at the Society’s blog about participatory maternity care (and it’s already gotten some serious attention). I hope I made my case that childbearing women have much to gain from – and contribute to – efforts to make healthcare more participatory. Now, I hope I have made my case to maternity care advocates that we need to pay attention to and, well, participate, in the Participatory Medicine movement.
Here are some ways to get involved:
- Follow the Society for Participatory Medicine on Facebook
- Become a member of the Society for Participatory Medicine
- Contribute to the peer-reviewed, open access Journal of Participatory Medicine
- Follow the Journal on Facebook or Twitter
- Read and comment on blog posts at e-Patients.net. Start with the guest post by me!