The Case for Greater Control
Most patients, especially those with chronic conditions, would agree that greater control over their healthcare is a positive thing. It’s a terrible feeling to be helpless when it comes to understanding your diagnosis, health and wellness plan or to even be able to access basic details about your own health record. As the industry moves towards a patient-centric care model, more and more of this information will become available to the patient directly, either through portals or shareable medical histories. As patients gain greater control over their information they become more in-tune with their overall state of health, and gain control over what proactive steps they can take to manage their care – whether it’s selecting a specialist of their choosing, administering medications themselves or electing where to perform procedures. Simple options like these make a world of difference in building confidence in patients that they can manage whatever ails them.
The more engaged a patient is the more likely they are to receive a plan that is tailored to their activation level. For example, diabetes patients will have an array of activities they can perform to improve their health, including monitoring glucose levels, managing medications and changing their eating habits. By receiving tailored care plans that help them along each step, they can learn to master all the components that can guide them towards a healthier state, such as how to shop for, cook and order healthy food.
As opposed to sending every diabetes patient home with a massive to-do list, providers will be able to more finely tune the message to each individual patient – dialing it back when they are highly activated or introducing them to care plans with simple, actionable items that evolve as they grow and learn.
Enabling a better healthcare experience
How do you quantify a good healthcare experience? Does it mean the patient recovered from the ailment? That they didn’t have to wait for hours to see a provider? That the patient received some literature that will hopefully help them avoid having to visit the healthcare setting for another year?
I’d argue that the industry should be aiming for a goal far higher than the historic markers. If the objective is to have a patient truly take control of their healthcare, then it needs to be something they want to do because it will be a positive experience, not to avoid further negative ones.
As healthcare trends shift further towards the patient being at the center of healthcare, so must patients’ mindsets. If the industry can meld innovative technologies with out of the box engagement strategies then I believe this can be a legitimate step forward. If not, then we are looking at yet another failed initiative. Has your healthcare network begun the move towards empowering patients to control their health? How has this transition fared?