Over at e-Patients.net, my colleague Alan Greene (who, with his wife Cheryl, runs the fantastic parenting and child resource site, DrGreene.com) writes an entry based upon a talk he gave at the second Health 2.0 conference in San Francisco this past week. (Health 2.0 is a conference that ostensibly seeks to help encourage the conversation amongst people seeking to help empower patients with their health care.)
Dr. Greene believes that change is coming in the American health care system, which is currently in a bubble, because the current system is simply unsustainable:
At one time, the dot.com bubble of the new economy and the more recent housing bubble looked to many like they would go up forever. The banking bubble grew in the marbled halls of century-old firms. But what looked so solid has quickly changed. There are signs that the healthcare bubble is already weakening. Healthcare costs already consume 16 percent of our GNP, and the percentage is accelerating at an unsustainable pace. Meanwhile, the number of Americans who don’t have access to their doctor on the day they need care has grown to 210 million.
Although the mental health system is in a different league when it comes to how it’s reimbursed and the costs associated with its treatment, it will be a part of any health care reform. And given how much the candidates are talking about health care reform, this seems like a timely prediction.
Health care will change, for better or worse. The choice we have is whether to become a part of that change, helping direct it, or simply stand back and hope for the best. Participatory Medicine forwards the notion that people — patients, providers and everyone else — working together as a team, will become the core of the future of health care. (This is what we regularly blog about over at e-Patients.net.)
How this will trickle down into mental health care is evident even today. Patients want greater access and communication with their mental health professional, through email and social networking sites. They become educated on their concerns before ever stepping foot in a therapist’s office and join a support group to gain peer-support for their concerns. And in some cases, some patients even are comfortable sharing their entire medical history with the world.
This is the future of care in both health and mental health.
Read the full entry: A Glimpse of American Healthcare of the Future (My Talk at Health 2.0)