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The Importance of Patient Engagement

  
  
  

Brie Web resized 600A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of attending the Connected Health Symposium in Boston, Massachusetts through my graduate student program at Emerson College. This conference brings together leaders in healthcare delivery & design, academics, and technology to tackle healthcare’s toughest challenges. The theme this year was: Innovations to Build Value, Accountable Care and Patient Engagement. I was able to attend a few sessions, and I left feeling enlightened and inspired.

The first session I attended was a discussion on patient experience ratings of primary care providers. The panel stressed that healthcare is a partnership. You can’t have a good doctor without a patient who isn’t proactive about their health. When a patient knows what they want, they can change their behavior and actions in order to get what they want. One of the most significant insights that came out of this panel discussion was how well the physician communicates with their patients is the number one factor in patient satisfaction.

I then moved on to a discussion about peer-to-peer healthcare and participatory medicine. Participatory medicine seeks the active involvement of the patient and the provider. e-Patient Dave was one of the panelists, and his message was loud and clear: “the resource that is most often underutilized in our information systems is the patients.” Sharing electronic information for patient engagement was also stressed as a key part of participatory medicine, citing the Open Note Study as evidence that patients are eager to be involved in their own healthcare. It’s a win for patients and a no-lose for physicians.

The final session I attended covered participatory medicine’s impact on phama and an “Rx” for a change. These panelists discussed the importance of getting patient’s involved in helping create solutions. The pharmaceutical industry has been mass market driven but it is important to remember that healthcare and wellness is personal and local. People are making decisions not based on their condition, but other factors in their lives. Using patient engagement forums was discussed not for the purposes of advertising but to determine solutions. In order for participatory medicine to be effective, the entire industry needs to work together as an ecosystem. Transparency and trust are key in order for pharma to be able to deliver the next generation of medicine.

For so long, it seems patients have taken a backseat in their healthcare. However, if this conference taught me anything, it’s that when patients do take the reins, big things can happen. I am a master’s student and health communication is my passion. After attending this conference and as a BBK Worldwide employee, I am even more excited about the work I’m doing now and am anxiously awaiting everything I get to do next. It is my job to continuously make patients aware of clinical research opportunities as well as make them feel empowered and in control of their own health. It’s great to be part of an organization that already offers patient empowering products like Health Info Gizmo, Ready.Set.Go Suite, and Pave the Way. While there will always be patients to care for, the more their voice is heard, the more the industry can move forward. They are the most important part of this “ecosystem” after all. Pharma and the patient recruitment industry should ensure they have a proactive voice and are equipped with all the tools needed to make educated decisions about their healthcare.

Comments

I stumbled upon this blog earlier this afternoon, and felt compelled to comment. The role of the patient has transformed in the past 15 years or so, largely due to pharma's direct-to-consumer advertising and the explosion of health information available online.  
 
DTC advertising changed the game because patients could now approach their doctors with intelligent questions. Pharmaceutical commercials bring to light conditions that patients didn't even know they had. On the other hand, DTC advertising can cast so much attention on a particular ailment, that it distorts the public's perception, often making us think the condition is more common or serious than it really is. Heck - during football games, you'd like that 75% of men suffer from erectile dysfunction, due to the volume of commercials presented. 
 
The explosion of healthcare forums has also boosted the role of the patient. Not only can patients research weird symptoms they have - but they can talk to each other about it! It's no longer a 1-to-1 relationship where a patient has to call their doctor for information every time. With the advent of online forums, patients can sympathize with each other, but also exchange information. The downside? We now have millions more doctors without medical degrees. :-) Everyone's diagnosing!
Posted @ Wednesday, November 14, 2012 3:15 PM by Tim
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