“If patient engagement were a drug it would be the blockbuster drug of the century”.
Leonard Kish, Healthcare IT Consultant
It has been generally accepted that healthcare is a complex business and treatment is best left in the hands of professionals. Historically a patient played a more passive role in the delivery system, letting specialists make most of the decisions for them. But latest research has proven that a more engaged patient receives better quality healthcare and also incurs lower costs. Given these benefits, some experts have touted patient engagement as the block buster drug of the century.
So where do we start to reap full benefits of patient engagement? Of course, with the patients. While it is essential for all the stakeholders to support patient engagement efforts, much of the responsibility lies on patient’s shoulder to drive the success of such initiatives. It requires deliberate, focused and consistent efforts that entail critical cultural and behavioural changes from patients’ end. So what qualities make a candidate ideally suited for patient engagement?Here’s what I think are the top three:
Receptive to Education: When it comes to something as serious as healthcare one cannot afford to make our decisions on wrong or partial information. Health literacy is critical for patients and having a mind-set that is receptive to learn is crucial for effective participation.
Ready to Take Control and Act: Once the patient has access to information, acting on it is crucial. Creating a personal health plan, tracking personal health information, involving other caregivers & family members are some of the measures that an engaged patient ought to take.
Open to Share: It turns out that inspiring someone else to choose an apple instead of an ice-cream, has a greater overall benefit that simply receiving a benefit yourself. A more engaged patient has the power to influence a wider audience which can lead to a healthier population in general.
In essence, an ideal patient for patient engagement transforms from “Someone should tell me what to do” to “I need to self-direct my healthcare” mentality. And only when this is achieved we can realize the true potential of THE blockbuster drug of the century.