3:20 - 3:40 pmSaturday, September 6
LK 120
New roles for physicians in the era of connected ePatients
LK 120
New roles for physicians in the era of connected ePatients
Professor University of Washington
What medicine means in the age of emerging technologies and online information is undergoing a tectonic shift—and requires physicians to take on new roles. For this presentation we (a sociologist and... Read more

Description

What medicine means in the age of emerging technologies and online information is undergoing a tectonic shift—and requires physicians to take on new roles. For this presentation we (a sociologist and physician who both study communication) have pooled our observational, qualitative studies in a variety of health care settings to identify how e-patients talk with physicians now. What we see is a new issue: both physicians and patients bring their own data and information to every encounter. In some sense, patients have always been bringing their own data, in the form of symptoms, stories, or worries—but now they bring in—or email, or text—graphs, snapshots, tests that they have sought, consultations with clinicians, and consultations with peers. The scope and depth of data that patients now bring in is unprecedented, but the data are of a wide range of type, derivation, and ‘medicalness’—and for these qualities, Neff has coined a new term: data valence to refer to the different expectations that patients and physicians have for the same data.  These different valences present physicians and patients with a new problem: how to interpret, make sense of, and make decisions jointly around the data.. What we see in how physicians and other clinicians respond to data of varying valences is a new kind of practice, that we term ‘negotiating data valence’. The value in physician expertise and experience—particularly the kind of expertise and experience that cannot be accessed that is especially important for patients with life-threatening illness—is no longer best deployed through a paternalistic approach or even a ‘shared decision making approach.’  In this presentation we will give concrete examples from our research of rapidly evolving data valences, negotiation practices, and future challenges for improving physician-patient conversations around these new kinds of data. We suggest five key ways physicians’ roles could change in response empowered patients:

1) Recognition of role in a widening information stream rather than the sole source of medical information;

2) Willingess to coach patients in using online medical information and communities;

3) Awareness of differences in the uses and values for data and information by patients and doctors;

4) Ability to balance ‘guiding’ medical conversations with responsiveness;

and 5) Appreciation for the difference between data and communication. We contend the increased ‘high-tech’ pathways to patient empowerment increase the need for ‘high-touch’ involvement on the part of physicians—and both e-patients and e-physicians have a stake in how this conversation evolves. 

Anthony Back is a physician trained in medical oncology and palliative care, and practice at the University of Washington and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington. In his research life he is a Professor of Medicine and studies interactions between patients and clinicians.

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