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Saturday, 8 February 2014

Do You Have a Health or Patient Advocate?

This is the blog for #hcsmca chat being held on Wednesday February 12, 2014 at 1:00pm est. You can see the post at the #hcsmca site . Natrice (@NatriceR) and I are co-moderators. 

By Annette McKinnon and Natrice Rese

We used the discussion from the January 22, 2014 #hcsmca chat with Christine Spencer and Emily Nicholas (@Emily_Nicholas8) from @PatientsCanada as our starting point. That chat concerned the risks and benefits of patients sharing their stories online. We talked about the power and value of the patient narrative.  

After the chat, we (Natrice and I)wondered: Why did the recognized value of the patient narrative not translate into patient influence in healthcare?


  • The patient narrative is informed by patient experience.
  • If the patient story is so powerful why do patients still have no voice?

We started to think about Ann Landers and moved on to the way bloggers are a lot like newspaper advice columnists, but for very specialized audiences. This led to a series of questions that helped us find our topic.
1. Who or what do patients and caregivers use to find out what they need to know, beyond the basics of the diagnosis, to help them figure out the intricacies of healthcare in chronic disease, aging, serious illness, dying, etc.?

2. We say patients and caregivers need an Ann Landers. Who do we/you choose to fulfill this function?

3 A patient navigator may be ideal as a co-captain or designated decision maker of your team? (An ePatient wants to collaborate so we chose the term "co-captain.")

4. How do patient navigators get recognition, and hence inclusion? How can patient navigators best support their family member?

5. With respect to patient voice: Why does it feel like them vs us when we attempt to learn the ropes? Where is (or how do we empower) our personal Ann Landers today?


6. Kingston General Hospital has a patient committee giving valuable input to every aspect of patient care - Is this happening in other hospitals and facilities?
 Here are two articles that inspired us:
Advocacy For Parents/Ontario Seniors by Jennifer A. Jilks (@jennjilks)
On Breaking One's Neck by Arnold Relman


Re: On Breaking One's Neck 
Arnold Relman, a 92 year old surgeon, had 3 doctors and 3 lawyers in his family. Despite having a whole team of advocates and good access since he was the ultimate "insider", Arnold still had issues and needed advocates.
Excerpt
"What is important is that someone who knows the patient oversees their care, ensures that the many specialized services work together in the patient’s interest, and that the patient [or their advocate *] is kept fully involved and informed."
We added the phrase "or their advocate"

So for February 12th's #hcsmca chat we propose the following topics about the importance of patient narrative.
1.  What is your definition of a patient advocate?

2. Can you share an example of the benefits of having an advocate ?

3. How have social media groups like #hcsmca changed  the patient experience ?




Read the transcript of the chat. (added Feb 12)

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