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Care Maps by NHS

Have you seen the so-called “care maps” NHS Choices has came up with? One example is in obesity:

Whether it’s for patients or students or even medical professionals, these care maps give a clear picture about a condition and its evidence-based treatment.


2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Nichole Taylor #

    Wow, these are incredibly helpful and necessary for patients to see. I think it is important to show patients that a disease will vary from person to person, and that the varying degrees of severity do not necessarily warrant the same treatment. Drug advertisements, more and more, are appealing to the average person. These advertisements are designed to make the viewer identify with the subject in the commercial, which leads healthy people to wonder if they, too, suffer from whatever ailment the drug is designed to treat. Because the goal of these advertisements is to sell their product, they do not emphasize that a less severe case of whatever disease they are treating may not require medication, but rather lifestyle changes. These commercials are very influential, leading patients to doubt their physician when he/she tells them that medication is not necessary and ask for the drugs anyways. Also, many people (including myself, woops!) do not get regular check ups or have a primary care physician. For this reason, they may be unsure of where to start or even if they are “sick enough” to go see a doctor. This unawareness and often fear of embarrassment leads many people who should go see a physician to be treated avoid going to the doctor. These charts make it very clear when a condition is severe enough to warrant a visit to a physician or even a specialist. Fortunately, unlike a lot of medical information made by doctors, these charts are very easy to read and understand even for the average person. The clickable boxes giving information specific to the box also help to cut down on the overwhelming information of uncertain quality often received when one Googles a condition. However, I do think there are downsides. These very user-friendly, information-rich flowcharts could lead people to not go to the doctor, thinking that they can manage on their own because they have all of the information that the doctor would provide them with at their fingertips. I’m sure there are more things to be wary of when making these widespread… that is just one that I noticed.

    October 5, 2012
  2. Karina Wlostowska #

    I think that ultimately patients are the ones that could benefit the most from the use of Maps. Patients have become more engaged with the research and self-diagnosis due to the technological advances made in the past 20 years. But how do patients understand the diverse information found on the Internet? I often find that even though I research my illnesses on the Internet, I still go to the doctor. So, why waste hours and effort searching for proper diagnoses? The reason is to allow patients to better understand biomedical concepts that guide decision-making in patient-doctor interactions. An article in the Journal of Biomedical Informatics 35 (2002 p. 8–16) argues that during the physician-patient interaction, doctors represent medical problems mostly in terms of biomedical knowledge underlying the disease, whereas patients represent them in terms of narrative structures of the illness. The differences are easily seen by looking at the Map of Medicine and the Real Stories on the NHS webpage. These sections represent the concept of the disease and patients narrative stories underlying the illness respectively. The perception of a medical condition by doctors and patients is significantly different. As the article mentioned above recognizes, a disease is the dysfunction of the body, whereas an illness is the social and moral meaning attached to this dysfunction that involves the disruption of the patient’s normal life. The way doctors view patients’ data is guided by the disease model (here Maps of Medicine), but patients usually perceive the disease from the moral aspect (posted stories). The paper concludes that for successful communication between the doctor and the patient both the medical concepts and patients’ narratives need to influence one another. Informing patients about the processes that accommodate a proper diagnosis of the disease as well as possible scenarios of the treatment outcomes should be an integrated process in medical decisions.

    October 5, 2012

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