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Tag: Patient Activism

Matthew Holt’s EOY 2017 letter (charities/issues/gossip)

Right at the end of every year I write a letter summarizing my issues and charities. And as I own the joint here, I post it on THCB! Please take a look–Matthew Holt

Well 2017 has been quite a year, and last year 2016 I failed to get my end-of-year letter out at all. This I would like to think was due to extreme business but it probably came down to me being totally lazy. On the other hand like many of you I may have just been depressed about the election–2016 was summed up by our cat vomiting on our bed at 11.55 on New Years Eve.

Having said that even though most of you will never comment on this letter and I mostly write it to myself, I have had a few people ask me whether it is coming out this year–so here it goes.

2017 was a big year especially for my business Health 2.0. After 10 years my partner Indu Subaiya and I sold it to HIMSS–the biggest Health IT trade association and conference. And although I used to make fun of HIMSS for being a little bit staid and mainstream, when it came to finding the right partner to take over Health 2.0’s mantel for driving innovation in health technology, they were the ones who stepped up most seriously. From now on the Health 2.0 conferences are part of the HIMSS organization, and Indu is now an Executive Vice President at HIMSS. I’ll still be very involved as chair of the conferences and going to all of them but will (hooray!) be doing a lot less back office & operational work. (Those of you in the weeds might want to know that we are keeping the Health 2.0 Catalyst division for now at least)

That does mean that next year I will have a bit more time to do some new things. I haven’t quite figured out what they are yet but they will include a reboot of (my role at least) on The Health Care Blog and possibly finally getting that book out of the archives into print. But if you have any ideas for me (and I do mean constructive ideas, not just the usual insults!) then please get in touch. You can of course follow me on Twitter (@boltyboy) to see what I’m thinking with only modest filtering!Continue reading…

Should Doctors and Nurses Be Patient Activists?

When the eminent physician Dr Cliff Cleveland wrote his memoir about his years in medical practice, he entitled his book, “Sacred Space.” Yes, it’s a bit sentimental, but he pays rightful homage to the idea that that relationship between patients and their doctors and nurses is something exceedingly precious. Medical professionals appropriately go out of their way to keep that space neutral, private and nonjudgmental, because patients are often at their most vulnerable.

A patient of mine recently told me about a genital symptom that was bothering her. She’d had it for two years, but had been too embarrassed to bring it up. We had to build up our trust bit by bit, until she felt comfortable revealing it to me. Happily, it was something easily treatable. It’s situations like these that remind me how critical it is to protect this space.

Like most doctors and nurses, I try to keep the outside world firmly outside the exam room. I don’t talk about politics, religion, money, or sports. I don’t even gripe about the mayor. Most medical professonals avoid political activism for the same reason. But could that reticence be harmful to our patients?

I grappled with this over the past few weeks, as the House passed its American Health Care Act and then the Senate put forth its Better Care Reconciliation Act. As one detail after another was revealed, I began to worry about my patients. The cuts to Medicaid would do real damage to them. I had a number of fragile patients in mind who could die if their care was disrupted.

What would I do, I asked myself, if I started to notice a dangerous side effect of a medication that my patients were taking. The answer, of course, is easy. And it wouldn’t even be a question; it would be an obligation. If I see a threat to my patients’ health, it’s in my job description to speak up.

Continue reading…

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