The Effects of Patient EmpowermentBy Miriam Bello | Mon, 03/01/2021 - 18:22
Patient empowerment is described by WHO as a process through which people gain greater control over decisions and actions affecting their health. When patients understand their health and their process with regards to it, their participation can be key in their outcome. Engagement can be generated by health providers sharing the right knowledge and creating a facilitating environment to ease the understanding and dote the patient with skills.
According to Patient Bond, regardless of the method for involvement, patient empowerment has always the same result, which is improved health outcomes through attachment to treatment. Empowered patients are usually willing to research on their own and invest on tools, such as wearables.
Perhaps one of the most powerful aspects of patient empowerment is the change in mindset that care providers can drive in their patients. Victor Saadia, Director General of Alive Consulting, told MBN that empowering patients and making them responsible for their own health is the key to success, instead of just prescribing and focusing on corrective healthcare when the person has already faced a complication. “Lifestyle plays a big role in encouraging and empowering people regarding their health, including nutrition, exercise, meditation and sleep,” he said.
Roshel Jayasundera, Director of Global Consulting at Axios International shared with MBN that, especially during the pandemic, patient empowerment is the main strategy to influence treatment as physicians’ time has been drained to support the health system.
How to Empower a Patient?
Information is essential, whether it is digital or physical literature. Technology has also become one of the most common ways to reach and measure patient’s engagement with their treatment. During an MBN interview, Alessio Hagen, Director of Digital Cities for Latin America at Dell Technologies, explained how tools like ECR “are empowering citizens with their own data and also, interconnecting healthcare services from diverse provider entities.”
Similar to Hagen’s comment is the one Roberto Aguilera, Health Sciences and Wellness Consulting Partner at EY Latam North, shared with MBN. “Building a patient-data environment for healthcare systems empowers the former to control their health.” Aguilera explained that according to Mexican law, all clinical records, including electronic records, belong to the patient. Data is not an asset that can be stored or sold by institutions. However, it is a tool that can be curated and analyzed to achieve better results.
There are barriers to this level of participation, according to the organization Powerful Patients. Physicians empowering patients is the first step. However, lack of time or complexity of language can be a determinant for failure. Technology barriers, generational and cultural gaps can also hinder progress. While technology might be a practical tool for some, for older generations it means an immediate barrier. The organization recommends building good relationships to face any challenge, as that will come before engagement begins.
In Mexico, IMSS carried a study on kidney disease patients and results showed that empowered patients had significantly higher levels of knowledge (85.1 percent), self-care (88.1 percent), decision-making (83 percent) and information access (81.9 percent). The study concluded that empowerment is a key factor in the treatment of people with chronic kidney disease undergoing peritoneal dialysis.