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hwangchristensen“While other industries take as their focus such shallow concerns as the making of money, the health care profession prides itself on dealing with matters of life and death. But that’s not the only thing distinguishing health care from other industries: it is also unique in the extent to which it excludes consumers from important decisions.”

That’s the opening of Power to the Patients, a new article published today in The Atlantic, by Clayton Christensen and Jason Hwang MD, authors of The Innovator’s Prescription. They continue with a refrain that’s all too familiar to readers of this blog:

Bring your own health research to the doctor’s office, and you might be labeled a nuisance patient. Question your doctor’s recommendations, and you could be called noncompliant or difficult.

The second paragraph says

Doctors and patients alike are accustomed to the firmly entrenched Doctor Knows Best status quo. But it is only by empowering patients – entrusting them with greater responsibility and putting opportunities for self-directed care into their hands – that health care can be made significantly more efficient and effective. It’s a bit late, of course, to work patient empowerment into the various proposals now wending their way through Congress. But anything that can be called true reform may be impossible without it.

Well, heck, I could paste in the whole thing – it’s brief and to the point. I didn’t say it, they did. Go read it. I will say, they end with this call to action:

Surely if more patients realized how much influence they could have in their own care, they would discard their roles as passive health care consumers, and would instead become its agents of change.

Go read it.

(If you’ve been living under a rock for the past ten years regarding technology, Christensen revolutionized world thinking about innovation with this “disruptive innovation” framework, which identified the underlying dynamics that explain why certain innovations succeed in overthrowing industry leaders. Ignore this book at your peril.)