Creating Better Health

Today I listened into the first session of Learning Creative Learning. This is an online learning event run by the folks at MIT's Media Lab rooted firmly in constructivist theories of education. I alluded to it in my blog post yesterday about a learning event taking place around the language of Hollywood, and I hope to tie these events together with some other events soon.

But first, I want to explore my initial reactions to the first lecture. I had read the paper ahead of time, and I've read a lot of related material, so nothing new jumped out at me, with one exception.

This time, I was approaching this whole creative learning thing from a different context. I'm part of the patient education committee at the Community Health Center, trying to help underserved patients learn how to better care for themselves. I'm in the Health Leadership Fellows Program of the Connecticut Health Foundation, trying to find ways to address disparities in our health care system. I've been spending a lot of time thinking about the whole e-Patient movement, and I've been trying to bring some of this together in terms of the Mayo Clinic's Center for Social Media.

The Center for Social Media draws in a lot of e-Patient types. e-Patients are "empowered, engaged, equipped and enabled". Some of them even went to MIT. They gather in groups like the 'Society for Participatory Medicine' and I have to wonder if the Society for Participatory Medicine was influenced by Henry Jenkin's idea of Participatory Culture.

It all fits nicely together for those who are already empowered and have a love of learning, but I have to wonder how it can fit with patient education where I work; the fifty year old man from Puerto Rico with a heart condition and no family doctor, the young muslim women struggling to get by in a society which doesn't embrace them as they deal with domestic violence at home, the newly diagnosed diabetic patient with complicated cultural relationship to food who lives in a food desert. Where does creative learning fit in for these people? How do we help people who have been downtrodden for years to become empowered? How does this relate to the frustration of providers to get the patients comply, take their medicine, get exercise, quit smoking or whatever?

How can we help underserved patients create better health? That's my question for tonight. Care to join with me in this?

(Categories: )