Journal: Stronger doctor-patient partnerships improve healthcare

Doctors and patients must become partners to improve healthcare, urged BMJ in an editorial.

The journal called for new and stronger partnerships between physicians and patients. In the editorial, BMJ editors along with Professor Victor Montori and Dave Paul at the Mayo Clinic, state that attempts to preserve institutional bureaucracies, as well as professional and commercial vested interests, "have consistently trumped the interests of patients." They say clinicians and patients need to work in partnership "if we are to improve healthcare and challenge deeply ingrained practices and behaviors."

The physician-patient relationship must be viewed as more than the latest route to healthcare efficiency, the BMJ  said. "It's about a fundamental shift in the power structure in healthcare and a renewed focus on the core mission of health systems."

The editors add: "We need to accept that expertise in health and illness lies outside as much as inside medical circles and that working alongside patients, their families, local communities, civil society organizations, and experts in other sectors is essential to improving health."

Earlier this year, the BMJ launched a "Too Much Medicine" campaign to help tackle the threat to health and the waste of money caused by unnecessary care.

Several accompanying articles discuss "shared decision making" as part of a new social movement for healthcare reform. Ray Moynihan, Senior Research Fellow at Bond University in Australia believes citizens can play "a more active role in some of the big and pressing debates about the future health of medicine."

He suggests medical journals and professional associations "could play more of a role in providing space for informed thinkers outside medicine," while citizens' groups "could augment the population's health literacy to help build a more coherent and confident public voice to take part in debates about too much medicine."

To learn more:
 - read the editorial