The ‘New Work’ of Patients and Care Partners

New work patients care partners

Our New Work

In the 21st Century, we all benefit from massive advancements in the field of medicine. So many more of us are alive and are managing health conditions that were fatal in the past. Both physicians and patients (and care partners) have so much more to learn and manage.

These advances in medical knowledge also mean that there are significantly more specialists that we end up seeing. Managing a complex chronic illness brings ‘new work’ for patients and care partners. It can become a full-time job in itself. Understanding more about how our healthcare systems function can help us see where our new work comes from.

Our current healthcare system absolutely depends on the ‘new work’ of patients and care partners. This work often goes unrecognized . It is unpaid. And very often, it is not clearly communicated. As a result, there is nobody helping patients and care partners when it comes ‘learning the ropes‘.

What Does Our New Work Entail?

Our healthcare systems are still set up for the 1950s when we visited our family doctor and very rarely a specialist.

Today, patients and care partners have what Dr. Victor Montori (author, ‘Why We Revolt: The Patient Revolution for Careful and Kind Care‘) refers to as ‘new work’. We aren’t just seeing one doctor and getting one prescription filled, we are managing multiple appointments, multiple prescribing physicians and sometimes even crossing Health Authority boundaries.

It falls to patients and care partners to figure out how to keep up and how to carry information from one place to another.

This is an out-take from a longer keynote by Dr. Montori – where he explains what is involved in this ‘new work’.

This isn’t meant to freak you out, but to empower you know what is expected of patients and care partners. Once you realize what is expected, you can take steps to get organized. I’ve outlined Dr. Montori’s list of ‘new work’ expectations below the video.

Watch the entire keynote here (33 minutes):

We know you’re suffering, but here’s your list. ~Dr. Montori summarizing our ‘new work’

Checklist of New Work For Patients & Care Partners

  • Prepare for the consultation
  • Watch educational videos/ research
  • Bring questions; be ready for new ones
  • Record and review the visit
  • Review your medical records (after learning where and how to access them)
  • Communicate via portal and transmit user-generated data
  • Self measure, self-monitor, self-manage
  • Manage appointments, prescriptions and bills
  • Keep family and important others informed
  • Take care of significant other
  • Advocate for self and others

Our ‘new work’ certainly requires a learning curve. That’s why exists – so we can learn together and support each other. Learn more by taking the free online course, ‘Learning the Ropes‘.