Once a healthcare provider has graduated from school, it is up to them to stay updated with the latest clinical guidelines and research. This is done by being affiliated with professional organizations, reading health related journals, attending conferences to obtain continuing education credits, and collaborating with their peers (black arrows). Patients learn differently. In his Journal of Medical Internet Research article, Gunther Eysenbach describes how patients can obtain credible and reliable medical information through intermediation (a healthcare provider guides them to the information, the traditional model), disintermediation (professional health websites provide information, it is up to the patient to discern what relates to them), and apomediation (through the experiences of peers, individuals can be guided to health information that pertains to them – black arrows). But what about healthcare providers learning from patients?
Collaborative learning is the process in which individuals learn from eachother. Collaborative learning in healthcare should include should include more than what has been described above. Healthcare providers can and should learn from patients (red arrows). I have benefited greatly by being apart of the diabetes online community, and honestly believe I am a better clinician because of it.
I challenge my healthcare provider colleagues to “follow” an epatient (or many!) on Twitter who commonly discusses their experience having a health condition. Was there anything that surprised you? Did you learn better ways to trouble shoot, based on how epatients talk about trouble shooting? Is there something that you would tell or ask one of your patients, based on something an epatient you follow said/experienced? Did you realize how hard some people are working at managing their condition? If you haven’t found it yet, look harder, its there.