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Tessa Richards

Tessa Richards: Lifting the lid on information and learning from it

10 Sep, 13 | by BMJ

Tessa RichardsProgress. The march towards giving patients online access to their medical records is accelerating. The Society of Participatory Medicine has put out the bunting in welcome to the announcement by the OpenNotes initiative that 1.8 million more US patients can see and share full versions of their doctor’s notes; and that big US providers, including the Veterans Administration and the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, are on track to provide online access to notes from all specialties in 2014. Back in the UK progress seems slower, despite the government’s pledge to give all patients online access to their GP records by 2015.

Most patients are of course long inured to doctors holding all the information cards and dealing out selected bits in dribs and drabs. Asking a GP for a print out of your medical record can still feel like an act of aggression. One friend, worried and confused about his multiple disorders and nine different medications, said he did not dare ask his practice for a copy of his notes in case, “my GP holds it against me.” more…

Tessa Richards: How can we get better at listening?

16 Aug, 13 | by BMJ Group

Tessa RichardsReports urging health professionals to listen to patients and use their experience to improve the quality, value, and safety of healthcare have been flowing thick and fast. Last week another swelled their ranks. In his report on how the NHS might achieve the Shangri La of causing “zero harm,” US health guru Don Berwick headlined the message that “no source of information is more valuable” than the patient’s voice. So does another report launched this week by the US Institute of Medicine (IOM). Fronted by a video, it explores the why, where, and how of patient partnership and is based on a workshop held earlier this year, which I followed online. more…

Tessa Richards: Stop pushing propaganda to patients

27 Mar, 13 | by BMJ

Tessa RichardsThere is something to be said for wearing your heart on your sleeve, and few do it to greater effect than Margaret McCartney, a GP in Glasgow. She exuded frustration as she galvanised a session on public and patient involvement at the Evidence Live conference, in which she explained why she had reached the point of asking, “What are we GPs doing? And who is it for?”

“We are being forced to meet targets and priorities set by the government not by our patients,” she said, and it’s leaving scant time to meet their needs. “Most of them are old, with multimorbidities and they just want our help to get through the next bout of illness.” more…

Tessa Richards: Preventing disease with plastic water bottles and esprit de corps

12 Feb, 13 | by BMJ

Tessa RichardsA mosquito buzzed idly against the window inside the coach. Was it carrying the dengue virus we wondered? And if it was, what is the chance of dying from dengue haemorrhagic fever?

Such questions run through your mind when you are in a country where the disease is endemic, and as the WHO has recently flagged up, this now exceeds a hundred countries. As the incidence of disease has increased steadily so has concern about its toll on health and economies. Being reminded of this was a good reality check for conference participants as we bussed up to a small community in the Saraburi province, around 150km north of Bangkok to see “community self reliance” in action. more…

Tessa Richards: Forget fashion—go for value

18 Sep, 12 | by BMJ

Tessa RichardsHow much of the care patients receive is determined by their doctor’s decision to provide it as opposed to their need and preference for it? And how much money might be saved if investigations and treatments of limited or no value to patients were stopped? These questions were debated at two recent meetings on practice variation, in the Netherlands, and the Wennberg International Collaborative in London. Both agreed on a fundamental point; if patients aren’t asked what their preferences for care are and their views of its outcome are not solicited then these questions can’t be answered. more…

Tessa Richards: Personal information empowers and its shift to the people makes sense

20 Aug, 12 | by BMJ

Tessa RichardsGiven that health is our most precious commodity it is odd that many of us know so little about it. Part of the reason is that we are not used to seeing and thinking about our own health information, for most us don’t get much of it. But things are changing. The NHS has pledged to give everyone online access to their GP medical records by 2015. Controlling your own health record may become an option too. The vision is to turn us all into engaged, active, co producers of health and self managers of disease. If only it were that simple….. more…

Tessa Richards: Schools and health—could do better

13 Jun, 12 | by BMJ

Tessa Richards
To what extent are we sabotaging the future health and wellbeing of our children through ignorance, neglect, and misguided policy? And what can we do to redress this? Discuss.

Discuss? The education and public health experts participating in an international cross-sector meeting convened by the Salzburg Global Seminar in Klingenthal, near Strasbourg last week, scarcely drew breath. But there was a lot to talk about.  Improving the life trajectories of children, particularly disadvantaged ones, through changes in policy and practice across the spectrum of child development and education is a challenging task. more…

Tessa Richards: Who is defining patient-centred care?

10 Apr, 12 | by BMJ

Tessa RichardsIf the reality of patient care matched the rhetoric of the average “patient-centred” NHS provider it wouldn’t have been necessary for NICE to produce formal guidance on how to improve the patient’s experience of care, a recent BMJ editorial suggests. Nor would an international literature review of the indicators used to measure patient-centred care have found that the many and varied measures deployed have largely been developed without any input from patients. more…

Tessa Richards: Now is the winter of our discontent

14 Dec, 11 | by BMJ Group

Tessa RichardsStorm clouds hovered above Brussels. Europe’s heads of state battled away, yet again, to try and save the eurozone from collapse. Down the road an international group of clinicians, researchers, and policy makers questioned how Europe’s beleaguered health systems can cope as demand for care soars and workforces shrink.

The European Commission warned member states they would be short of a million skilled healthcare workers by 2020 over a year ago. Over the past three years it’s stumped up several millions of euro’s to support three vast quantitative and qualitative data mapping projects on Europe’s workforce. Information from these provided the backbone for a recent meeting on workforce planning and mobility. more…

Tessa Richards: Responding to the ageing “crisis”

9 Aug, 11 | by BMJ Group

Tessa RichardsIs our increasing life expectancy something to celebrate or despair of? It’s a question that’s exercising several sectors right now and it’s not hard to see why. All societies are ageing, but the fastest population increase is among the “oldest old,” and their projected need for health and long term care is daunting.

Currently around 1.4 million UK citizens are over 85. By 2035 the UK Office for National Statistics estimates it will be 3.6 million. Data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) paint a similar picture and in its recent report, entitled Help Wanted, it estimates that the proportion of people over 80 will increase from a current  4% to 10% by 2050. more…

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