All this talk about Health 2.0/ Web 2.0 and the wisdom of crowds has got me noticing things I probably would not have noticed before. For that reason I am directing readers to the following article by Craig Morris at truthout (http://www.truthout.org/issues_06/012908EB.shtml). It’s an interesting read about the environment, and alternative energy sources in and of itself. But there is more to it than that. In it, we are again reminded about the importance of communities and collective wisdom in every sector of our society. This is but one example completely outside of the health care sector. In the energy business, some countries are fostering local control, activism and (literally) power to the people instead of power to the corporations.
From Morris’ article
“…German communities often come together to put up a handful of wind turbines, often on farms, funded by citizen co-ops. In the US, if wind farms are installed on farmland, chances are that a company like John Deere funds the operation because only a profitable corporation can take full advantage of the tax credit. Americans have a hard time investing directly in wind as Germans do because corporations, not communities, decide where wind turbines are put up in the US.”
Are there parts of this statement that sound a lot like what we have been discussing? Of course there are! The corporations in question are the large provider networks and the payers. In our American health care sector it is corporations that control where and how services are provided, not the patients. As e-patients, we can learn a lot from the work of the Germans with regard to energy. Think of our online communities as “citizen co-ops” atempting to provide information and services were payers and corporate healthcare have been unable or unwilling to tread. Most importantly, think about the political, financial and even cultural changes that must take place in America before we can begin to level the playing field between patients and corporate health care.