This weekend Aftenposten carried different stories around the cost of healthcare (for eg here and here – Norwegian texts). The technocrats and the bureaucrats will haggle about numbers and details while politicians extol the virtues of their party programs — or more likely downplay the programs of rivals.
This dance is pretty obvious for most citizens, however, the voice of the citizen is absent in this discussion on the cost of healthcare and what we should be doing about it. I hope this is not for long and that the debate on cost of healthcare can be channelled inclusively and constructively to produce some creative solutions.
Last autumn in an article in a Norwegian trade journal, I talked about patient-driven self-service site Patientslikeme.com. Yesterday, the Aftenposten carried an article on a patient with ALS (or Lou Gehrig’s disease) around the rising cost of healthcare. The individual interviewed described how ALS had almost destroyed his life but that state-financed healthcare made it possible for him to lead a meaningful life. The story behind Patientslikeme.com also has a link to ALS. Same conditions but different solutions.
I was struck by how in Norway, the state takes care of ALS-patients — at a pretty high cost. In the US, beyond health insurance, there are mechanisms that catalyze innovation. It is useless pitching one system against the other since I’m concerned about finding how state-financed healthcare (in Norway) can drive innovation. I think a first step is in sensitizing people to the notion that resources (healthcare included) are limited and we all need to be active in finding solutions. Something like where the state can serve as a platform and that cultivates creative services.
I believe social media solutions have an important role to play – not as a technology in itself, but as a catalyst to socialize the ideas and complexities of healthcare for ordinary citizens. To raise awareness and then to get them to take a more participative, co-production role in health care services and to be part of the solutions. Utlimately helping drive inefficiencies out of the system and lowering the cost of healthcare.
In that respect it is good to see that the magazine of the Norwegian Medical Association carried an article on the role of social media in healthcare Tidskrift. I consider it a simple but significant start.