In health and health care, the most important stakeholder the world over is…drum roll, please…The Patient/Health Citizen.

In this month’s Harvard Business Review, that venerated publication cites 12 megatrends shaping health globally:

  1. Aging
  2. Personalized medicine and advancements in technologies
  3. Medical tourism
  4. New provider types beyond the doctor
  5. Rising costs
  6. Employers and payers influencing clinical decisions
  7. Evidence based medicine
  8. Prevention
  9. Philanthropy
  10. Environmental challenges
  11. Global pandemics
  12. Innovation and demand in developing economies.

Where’s the person-patient, Harvard? People are engaging with the help of social networks, offline and on, empowering technologies and tools, and advice and support from each other. People-patients are the 13th megatrend.

Health Populi's Hot Points

Patient-centricity, health engagement, sustainability: these are the watchwords that are driving strategic, employee benefit, and market research plans among health industry stakeholders in 2010.

How to get to person-centric health? Let me tell you how not to get there:

  • Keep paying and incentivizing marketing professionals based on maximizing the number of prescriptions, devices, and ‘things’ sold; and volume of patients seen in a day.
  • Limit the number of new projects you undertake and stick with what’s worked 2 years ago because it’s a safe bet and, hey, you’re trying to keep your job in a tight labor market.
  • Continue to spend $millions on wide-span broadcast TV and newspaper ads (except in very specific cases).
  • Don’t incorporate public health messaging in your campaigns.
  • Don’t worry about peoples’ whole lives, health disparities, or health literacy.
  • And, for goodness sake, don’t concern yourself with whether people trust you.

If, however, you want to engage with people-centered health care, embrace transparency. Respect your publics. Make the case for the life cycle, full-on value of your products and services. Motivate and nudge people to adopt healthy lifestyle behaviors. Commit to operating in the health and wellness sphere. That’s where patients-people want to engage.

And think about Gilles Frydman’s definition of participatory medicine: Participatory Medicine is a movement in which networked patients shift from being mere passengers to responsible drivers of their health, and in which providers encourage and value them as full partners.

There’s the mother of all megatrends.