Positive health outcomes are a shared responsibility between patients and medical providers. Informed and engaged patients are increasingly taking a more prominent role in their own care, breaking the dynamic they used to have with medical providers.
Patients who share responsibility for their medical care have the best outcomes, states the Shingletown Medical Center (SMC). The center suggests that the shared responsibility discussion should include what the patient may expect during treatment and in the outcome. “A similar approach should be followed in planning tests, consultations or referrals,” says the SMC.
It is not only about taking the medicine but about an individual’s entire lifestyle, explains Gabriela Allard, President, Mexican Diabetes Association. “The most important element is to empower the patients with the information they need,” says Allard. During the current transition to a preventive health model, it is essential for the patient to become a health promoter within their community. “Health promotion and education is not directed equally to all sectors. Patients should become health promoters to identify all risks factors and prevent the illness in other members of their immediate environment.”
The active involvement of patients in their treatment can transform entire epidemiological trends. An increasingly large percentage of the population lives with at least one long-term condition such as diabetes, arthritis, asthma and heart failure, explains the King’s Fund Organization for England. Caring for these people makes up the bulk of the need and demand in societies and calls for a different response from care providers, as to date, responses have not been able to address these medical hurdles. Where once the primary purpose of the healthcare system was to provide episodic treatment for those with acute illnesses, “it now needs to deliver joined-up support for older people and others living with long-term conditions. It must also provide ongoing care for the growing numbers of people who have survived cancers and other major causes of premature death as a result of medical advances,” says the fund.
Helping patients engage in their own medical treatment empowers them, says Francisca Vargas, Founder, Galena. “Every day, more patients are interested in taking control of their health and in experimenting with new types of healthy lifestyles without depending fully on medications.”
Shared responsibility goes beyond patients and physicians; it also integrates insurers, pharmaceutical companies, industry and society. These actors will have to make collective efforts to protect, promote and improve the public’s health, according to the Public Health System Group for England.
To correctly adopt shared responsibility, local and international policymakers must facilitate the local organizational and socio-political climate, says a study by Hardeep Singh. This will facility a safe implementation of a participative responsibility among different health actors in the health system, especially among patients as they are not health experts.