Collective Medicine is based on the “Collective Journey” narrative studies by Jeff Gomez. Jeff developed this theory as entertainment companies look for a new way to engage audiences empowered by digital resources. These newly informed audiences are also our patients.
Consider how the Hero’s Journey model informs the way we currently provide health care:
It is reactive and driven by a conflict. When a person gets sick or injured a response becomes necessary.
There is an expectation of linear progression. A person becomes ill, they receive treatment or medical intervention, and then they become well again.
A pathogen or injury is a singular problem. Instead of complex problems in a patient’s internal and external environments and systems, the focus is often on an acute medical issue or the most prominent symptoms.
Health is seen as a binary struggle between good and bad. Pain and symptoms are “wrong” and must be eradicated. When the illness (or symptom) is ‘conquered’ the struggle is considered over.
Knowledge is limited and the patient is expected to defer to the provider. Specialists operate in silos. Treatment is not holistic and often does not address systemic issues that contribute to a patient’s disease(s). Prescriptions are given without full consideration for the patients skills, goals, or resources.
The doctor is the “hero.” The doctor is expected to “fix” the patient. The afflicted seek medical care from a physician/savior. The presumption is if the healthcare provider is competent, the patient will get better.
The doctor is burdened. The patient expects a linear process directed by the physician. The patient is removed from personal responsibility and they consider their health provider as the person “in charge” of responding to an illness or health problem.
The Collective Journey suggests a new way to reframe the provider-patient relationship:
It is proactive and driven by an ongoing and collaborative commitment to health and vitality.
It is non-linear. A patient recognizes they are in a constant cycle of healing and recovery to different degrees depending on their circumstances.
The system is understood to be the source of problems. Health problems are seen as the result of systemic issues including cultural and socioeconomic factors as well as physiology, lifestyle, and genetics.
Illness is not seen as failure. It is considered part of the process of living. Pain and symptoms are investigated and managed by addressing underlying causes. Both patient and provider see “health” as a spectrum.
Knowledge is abundant as the patient can seek information from a diverse group with different specialties, backgrounds, opinions and perspectives. Input from the patient about their personal needs and priorities is sought and considered by practitioners. The providers and patient work collaboratively.
The patient is empowered to be responsible for their health. The patient is a full participant in lifestyle changes, and works collaboratively with providers to manage their health in an ongoing and proactive basis.
The doctor is not burdened as they share with the patient, the community, and an integrated team of health professionals, responsibility for supporting the patient’s health journey.