Is There Latent Patient Power in Europe?
I have been living in Barcelona for just over two weeks. Each time I go out my door I can literally run into hundreds or even thousands of tourists from all over the globe. They clog the streets and alleys and enjoy the cafes. None of that is bad, especially with a teetering Spanish economy. Since I am a chatty guy – and I have some cute dogs that I walk – I get to speak with people along the way. What I am finding is that they are very curious about new health developments, especially new treatments and research for conditions they or a loved one faces. The difference here is that there is no noise level of pharmaceutical and medical product advertisements. It is not allowed by law. The U.S. is one of the only countries where such ads are permitted. Here there is no “ask your doctor about….” It is refreshing on one hand, but on the other there is no constant drumming of giving patients permission to assume more control of their health.
My sense in talking to people here is that they do want to be in more control. For example, on the train the other day I met a young woman from Britain who is living in Spain. When I told her what Patient Power does she immediately disclosed that she has psoriasis and wondered if her treatment was up-to-date. She started showing me her elbows, which fortunately for her, were not seriously affected. My offering was to have her watch our very inspiring video with Lissa Conger, a woman of about the same age who is doing well and who thrives on connecting with others with her condition. She is a Powerful Patient.
As I stroll my new neighborhood, I am sure I will have more conversations like this. When people ask what I do, they become keenly interested. They want more information and are very “wired.”
There is a hematology medical conference coming up here in September and it looks like I may be able to cover it and record video interviews with blood cancer doctors from Spain, Germany, Italy, Israel, the U.K. and the U.S. The doctors want to talk, as well.
I am excited, even without hundreds of millions of dollars spent on pharmaceutical advertising, patients and doctors on “this side of the pond” want to connect so that optimal care can be given to each patient and that patients can feel more engaged, knowledgeable and in control. As that happens I know patients will achieve better health.
Wishing you and your family the best of health!
Andrew is the author of the new book The Web-Savvy Patient: An Insider's Guide to Navigating the Internet When Facing Medical Crisis. He is a respected medical journalist and 15-year leukemia survivor. He founded healthtalk.com and patientpower.info and has hosted almost 3,000 online talk shows for patients with chronic conditions and cancers. Many of America's leading medical centers support ...