The patient protagonist

For decades, the ultimate authority in health care has been doctors or insurance companies. But research we did with a group of health entrepreneurs suggested that many of the most exciting potential developments in the future of medicine will be unlocked only when patients lead the way.

“For much of history, this was impossible because patients were – almost by definition – isolated, broken, and weak,” Andrew Benedict-Nelson wrote in our report. “But changes in the landscape of patienthood – most importantly patients’ newfound ability to act collectively – could make them the driving force behind improvements in health care in the 21st century.”

Evolving far beyond their current role as informed consumers, patients could advocate for systemic change and drive their own independent research agendas – provided the social norms of the health care system can keep up.

We’ve explored health care’s changing norms in several other projects including the launch of a nursing department at USC and our original publication Health Plus Social.