Could we ever have a health service in which professionals empower patients to become their own primary health providers?

Illness and pain can be very disempowering.


When I have a severe toothache I want someone or something to fix it. Now! Not sure I care who or what, as long as that pain goes.

Our culture piles in by heaping on anxieties to undermine our claims to personal responsibility. “How do I know that headache is not cancer? Better run along to the doctor for a check“…  Many of us do not question the assumption that when we have symptoms we should only use experts.

So what scope could there ever be for health empowerment?

There will always be some who choose to take responsibility for their own health. Most of us however need a very good reason – or even no other choice! There are at least three drivers away from health dependency.

We cannot afford to rely on others so much. If health economics was a patient it would require drastic surgery. Health costs have been doubling every 10 years, at least twice as fast as other spending. Every modern society is facing a health funding crisis and so far little prospect that this will be fixed. This means that more people will not have professional medicine when they look for it.

Top-down delivery does not fit so well anymore. The main causes of cost inflation are the rise in the levels of chronic disease and extended late life care. In both these areas heroic medicine and expert interventions are less and less cost effective. Policy makers all agree that the burden must move away from medical to social care, and back to people, families and communities.

There is a hole to fill. When you are told “just keep taking this prescription (that means forever)”  or “there’s nothing more we can do“, you either roll over, or you might say “Enough already! There must be something else“.

To which some of us would reply: “If you can wake up in the morning you have capacities you can barely dream of – lets get started!

This is where Health Guides can step in.

A Health Guide is anyone who hunts for and supports resilience in their patients, clients or companions. Most health professionals have the potential to do this although much healthcare work allows little scope for such focus.

Many Health Guides will already be ‘Coaches’. Certainly coaching skills are central to the role. However it is not necessary to formally qualify and register as a coach to do this work. In our Skills page we identify other healthcare practices that can have the similar outcomes.

We also provide tools with which anyone working in care could start. OurMedicine Workbooks are can turn you into a Health Guide as you use them. They focus on key areas of health that are often better delivered at home, even more so in partnership with another. The key is that most of the work is done by your patient or client between visits, who then may return to check in and re-connect with you. Our tools encourage them to come back, help you extend your practice further into their health care and help them engage more effectively with you. Its a good basis on which to build a practice!

Health Guides can position themselves well in a place between medical intervention and care: