Knowledge Goes Public Eng


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English Text of Dr. Monika Lehnhardt's Presentation: Knowledge goes Public, held in St. Petersburg in May 2009 at the First Monsana Conference.

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Knowledge Goes Public Eng

  1. 1. Knowledge goes public Let me now come to the topic I announced before: Knowledge goes public. We experience fundamental changes in the Health Care Systems all over the world. One of the key factors is a very different relationship between doctors / medical specialists and the patients. Exploiting all possibilities to open access information, reading neutral and objective articles, enjoying open exchange of experience with congenial people, the patient of the 21st century has become enlightened and self-confident, an equally entitled discussion partner of the medical professionals. Internet is obviously the medium where open access to information, exchanging experience and networking is happening. Thousands of patients’ communities share their knowledge, their experience and their concerns. Patients have become experts in technology and methods of treatment available for their health problem. Patients have become very mobile and they are willing to travel far when they expect a more advanced medical approach, a more experienced medical professional and a more humanitarian behaviour of care-givers. The motivation to seek medical treatment abroad may be twofold. One reason could be to save costs. The value of what journalists like to call “Health Tourism” has increased by 250% or 30% every year since 2004. It is very popular for US citizens to travel to countries like Panama, Brasilia and Costa Rica. The main treatments are plastic surgery and dental treatment. But also South Africa, Thailand and Hungary are attractive for many patients. In Asia the leading country in Health Tourism is no doubt India, where the cost for a cardiac intervention would cost US$ 4.000 as compared to US$ 30.000 in the United States. The other reason to motivate a patient to seek medical treatment abroad is quality. This means the level of skills and experience of the medical expert, availability of latest technology equipment but also a humanitarian approach of care-givers to the patient. Needless to say, patients would preferably see a combination of the two motivation factors: save costs and get higher quality. Definitely they expect to get “value for money”. They will search for hospitals with an accreditation or so-called “centres of excellence”. We – with an experience of 30 years in the medical field – can effectively support the patient to find the solution that is tailor-made for him and her. Not only patients changed over the last decade, but also the behaviour of medical experts. The increasing role of Internet the sheer number of Weblogs (estimated 60 Million) creates pressure on the medial professionals to share their knowledge and their experience. Personal publishing is the result, publications are made accessible in a very fast way, they are free of charge and they invite comments from readers. “Knowledge means power” a slogan frequently used in previous times is only applicable when knowledge is kept for one’s self and not shared with others. What we see now are mutual empowerment processes leading to more transparency and this means a significant behavioural shift. Doctors who refer their patient to another clinic – especially abroad – want to be sure that their patient gets the best possible treatment and is referred back for post-operative / post-intervention care. Again, we with our decades of experience in the medical field (especially in ENT, ophthalmology and from personal experience also in oncology) can support you to identify your referral partner. By using the impressive possibilities of exchanging information via Internet you will soon feel like an affiliate of the clinics and the experts you are referring your patients to. Patients – as we said before – become experts and they develop a clear idea about their chances and options for medical treatment and they will be able to discuss these questions with the professionals on a high level. They will not only read objective and neutral articles in the Internet, they will use it as a platform for communication with other patients suffering from the same disease or parents with children who have the same problems. They may use chat-rooms, join communities and contribute
  2. 2. to weblogs. Personal experience from others will help to make a decision where to have the treatment. When we take Cochlear Implant as an example there are a few decisions to be made: -Where to go for diagnosis – where to go for surgery – where to go for fitting and where to go for rehabilitation. As we know after 20 years providing Cochlear Implants to children THE most important factor in improving the chances for full inclusion in mainstream kindergarten and schools is rehabilitation. And here again, Internet is offering a new dimension in Live Online Rehabilitation and Parents Coaching”. This is the most modern approach and we will demonstrate how it works. Parents will quickly understand the huge impact and see how easily this can be realized. We with our experience in working with children with CI and their parents will help to get this project started. And this will happen tomorrow. Initially the partners will be the Rehabilitation Centre in Friedberg Germany and a parents’ community in St. Petersburg. But I am convinced this concept will spread into many other cities and countries in the very near future.