This posting marks the initial gathering of a virtual community of individuals who recognize that each of us must participate knowledgeably and actively in finding and using health care if we are to benefit from it.
Members of this new community -- and I hope this includes you -- come to this realization in different ways: some through our experience as patients, some as caregivers. The views of some of us are informed by our research and others through our interactions with the patients for whom we care.
We see firsthand what today's medical care demands of patients. We know that many people in the US -- sometimes including us -- do not fully step up to these demands, sometimes because we lack skills, knowledge, or resources and sometimes because we are ill or otherwise vulnerable.
Members of this new community recognize that change is needed to ensure that people have the opportunity to act knowledgeably on their own behalf -- changes in expectations and behaviors of all stakeholders; changes in the type and source of information available to the public; changes in relationships between providers and patients; and changes in institutional policies.
And we all recognize that the stakes are high. We as individuals have the most to lose -- our inaction can result in preventable suffering, medical errors and suboptimal outcomes. And we know that our inaction reverberates throughout the health care system in the form of wasted resources, erosions in the health of the nation and increased disparities.
The purpose of this blog is to provide a venue for those who are concerned with increasing people's engagement in their health care to share insights, innovation and information; to find new partners and together; and to build a strong chorus of diverse voices and stronger actions toward this end.
Now is a good time to launch this effort. On March 23 President Obama signed new legislation that primarily focused on reforming health insurance access and improving knowledge about health care evidence and effectiveness. However, this legislation largely overlooks the critical but growing role and responsibilities of individuals in the success of the health care enterprise. As reform plays out, it will place additional responsibility on individuals to be informed, active consumers of health information and participants in their care. In a few weeks, CFAH will release its "Snapshot of People's Participation in their Health Care," a study that assesses the current status of such participation. It is not a pretty picture; there is work to be done.
We invite you to join us and strengthen the effort to increase people's participation in their care: respond to future posts; let us know if you would like to contribute one yourself; subscribe to the news feeds on the site; wander through the resources and provide feedback; participate in virtual meetings and webinars.