Since Dave deBronkart’s visit to my community on the coast of Maine this past summer, our Health & Wellness Foundation has launched our own Patient Empowerment program. Led by a local surgeon, Dr. Stephen Cook, and supported by our retired pharmacist, Rick Powis, a small group of 18 patients have formed our first study group, learning how to take ownership and control of our own personal medical records and learning how to do our own health research in order to partner with our physicians. We’re just getting started, but the appetite and interest for this work is huge!
Our first Study Group forms the core of a “buddy program” that will fan out across our communities to help more families take control of their own health and care. The initial group of patients will evolve and refine the program and then ramp it up. Having a locally respected physician leading the charge will help our local medical practitioners take advantage of all the legwork and research that engaged patients are willing and able to do on their own behalf. Running this as a community-led initiative rather than as a healthcare system-led initiative also has advantages. Patients feel more engaged and empowered and they’re able to share tips on how to deal with different primary and specialty care practices, health systems, and insurers.