A World Missing a Word


A rose by any other name



Post by Elliott Wortham VI



I have been hearing the term “patient” a lot lately, which would be expected in a healthcare system. Though this term provides caregivers with a deep seeded sense of meaning and purpose in life, imagine a situation in the future where this word doesn’t exist. In this new world, there is no coined term for “a person awaiting medical care.” This is a world where people are not “acted upon,” but one in which people “act.”


In a world without patients, health professionals don’t spend money on ineffective care plans. They understand the reality of that persons’ life … their family life, financial situation, etc.


Health and healthcare delivery systems are not stuck within the confines of “brick and mortar” hospitals. They provide help where people want it, often closer to home, which is usually a cheaper alternative than the former.


In a world without patients, people don’t feel stigmatized when they receive treatment for a medical condition or psychological disorder.


For instance, people living beyond their initial cancer treatment are not labeled “survivors.” In their mind, they may not be “survivors”; they are “surviving.” In this world, they live without the psychological constraints of labels.

We often ask in healthcare, what inhibits us from “moving the needle” or “transforming healthcare?” What if it’s as simple as one word? What if this one word can change the world?

None of this is said in ignorance of all of the issues that come with deleting the word “patient” from our vocabulary. For example, what in the world would we do without that label? Would we call patients consumers?

It’s only a thought, which could, if considered just for a moment, transform our healthcare system into one where people “act” instead of being “acted upon.”



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