I started the DCPatient blog 6 weeks ago, unsure of the reaction I would receive for my opinions on what patients would like to see from the healthcare system. Overwhelmingly, the reactions have been very positive and thoughtful with dozens of comments on this blog, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
One repeated criticism has been that I am “too educated” or write at “too high a level for the average patient” or that my postings were “not what they expected from a patient’s blog”. Interesting. What should a patient sound like? Write like? Blog about? My Harvard degree did not spare me from becoming ill. My Georgetown law degree barely enables me to navigate insurance coverage.
While I understand the point that for most Americans issues of literacy, health literacy, numeracy, language and culture, time challenges, and family obligations serve as real barriers for understanding, engaging, and optimally accessing the healthcare system, my education does not make me any less of a patient than the next person in the waiting room. What it does do, I feel, is obligate me to pick up the mantle for other patients and push, prod, and advocate for changes in healthcare that serve us all. Regina Hertzlinger, Phd, of Harvard Business School, would call me a marginal consumer.
Last week something remarkable happened, I emerged from the desert to find that there were many others like me. ePatientDave kindly introduced me to the Society for Participatory Medicine and a host of professional patient provocateurs just as educated, annoyed, and activated as I hope to be. Please check them out.