Patient Advocacy & Digital Health

They say that if we want the foundation of what matters, look toward the truths of childhood. I agree! Dr. Seuss is one of my standbys for distilling things down to the essence of what we need to focus on. As healthcare spins faster and faster into the future, we all look for stability and the ability to connect the #DigitalHealth age with the patients and their varied needs. Who needs our help in making this connection?

  • The acute sufferer
  • The chronic journeyer
  • The worried well
  • The elderly without support or guidance
  • The young without an advocate
  • The confident with bad information
  • The uncertain hungry for assistance
  • Everyone

One of my lights in #DigitalHealth and the true connection to patient advocacy is Dr. David Scher. David’s wealth of experience combined with his passion for #DigitalHealth and compassion for the sick creates a story worth telling. David focuses on #DigitalHealth not as something to use because it’s new or shiny, but as a tool to be used to fill needs and do so in ways that add value to the patient’s experience. It’s a simple yet important distinction as we work to change the signal to noise ratio in healthcare today.

David wrote “The Medical App is a Patient Advocacy Tool” back in 2012 and it remains completely relevant even today. He calls out to what I consider to be the definition of patient advocacy by the respected Trisha Torrey:

…patient advocacy regards any activity which ultimately benefits a patient. Using that definition, it can apply to caregiving for an individual patient, to groups that develop policies and advice that help patients, to government groups that develop legislation to improve systems or processes for patients.

Of course, we’ve moved beyond just medical apps since 2012 and Dr. Scher’s thoughts have kept pace and remained right on target. In his “5 ways digital health technologies are patient advocacy tools,” his lists his top five ways #DigitalHealth tools work well for patient advocacy:

  1. They can help prepare for the office visit.
  2. Patient education content.
  3. Social media.
  4. Connections to caregivers.
  5. Provide for better continuity of care.

We must consider these five and continue to make connections to the ever-evolving gamut of #DigitalHealth tools – we must curate, review, and select the best to be used in our goal of helping the patient. But how?

Resources abound for finding and dissecting new #DigitalHealth tools. Colleagues such as Paul Sonnier ( @Paul_Sonnier) and John Nosta (@JohnNosta) spend considerable effort sharing and curating all that is #DigitalHealth. It’s up to each of us to use these resources and make the “final mile” connection to the patient needs.

Recently Trisha published, “Physicians Buying In – Bring on the Patient Advocates!,” discussing the great news about yet another ongoing shift in healthcare. She sums it up succinctly:

When the presence of a patient advocate is appreciated not solely by clients, but by clients’ providers too – that’s how we know we have “arrived” and are bringing value to the entire system.

We all should examine why we are part of healthcare – a job? Passion to help others? As a patient thrust into the whirlpool? A noble profession? Regardless, the mission should point toward the goal of helping. Be that via curing, alleviating, giving hope, transitioning, or reaching for the next great jump in healthcare, we are all in this together.

This week on #hcldr, let’s think & talk about how Patient Advocacy and #DigitalHealth work together and bring us into the next phase of healthcare.

Let’s consider where we are and where we need to be as well as the implications along with the #hcldr community of professionals, patients, clinicians, administrators, lurkers, counselors, social workers, designers, and advocates! Please join us on Tuesday, March 8, 2016 at 8:30pm Eastern (for your local time click here) as we discuss the following topics:

  • T1: Do #DigitalHealth tools enhance, enable, expand patient advocacy? How? Examples?
  • T2: Are #DigitalHealth tools essential for helping patients or will other channels suffice? Why or why not?
  • T3: How do you view the evolving symbiotic relationship between clinicians and patient advocates? Will this become de rigueur?
  • T4: In your role, how do you/can you bring the best #DigitalHealth tools together with real patient advocacy while creating solid engagement?



“Physicians Buying In – Bring on the Patient Advocates” Trisha Torrey, APHA Blog, Feb 1, 2016.

Accessed March 7, 2016

“The Medical App is a Patient Advocacy Tool” David Lee Scher, M.D., The Digital Health Corner, May 8, 2012.

Accessed March 7, 2016

“5 Ways Digital Health Technologies are Patient Advocacy Tools” David Lee Scher, M.D., Cardiology News, Jan 2, 2015.

Accessed Match 8, 2016

“Error 404 in the Patient Advocacy Community” Regina Holliday’s Medical Advocacy Blog, May 21 2012.

Accessed March 7, 2016

“Is there an advocate in the house? The role of health care professionals in patient advocacy” Dr. L Schwartz, Journal of Medical Ethics, May 25, 2001.

Accessed March 8, 2016

“From Compliance to Engagement: Reimagining the Patient Relationship” Jan Oldenburg, HIMSS Blog, May 28, 2014.

Accessed March 8, 2016


Image Credit

Hope Jacket – Regina Holliday

Creative Commons Restricted License

One comment

  1. […] Source: Patient Advocacy & Digital Health | hcldr […]

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