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Elevating the role of patients in healthcare

  • Watermark Seaport 85 Seaport Boulevard Boston, MA, 02210 United States (map)

Reflections and highlights

There are many ways we – as patients – can take healthcare into our own hands. And while the challenges and opportunities differ by condition or disease state, there is broad agreement that taking a more pro-active role in our own health will lead to better outcomes.

At the start of our discussion, some cynicism was expressed about the mantra of “patient-centricity”. While many (almost all!) healthcare organizations claim to be patient-centric, few meaningfully deliver on that promise. Let’s tackle what patient-centricity really looks like – how to deliver and measure it – at a future event!

Our discussion focused on empowerment, awareness and education. Here are the key themes:

How do we re-build trust in the healthcare system?

As our healthcare system has evolved, cost, access and physician practices have changed. There is a lot of concern (and understandable skepticism) about drug prices, the role of ‘big pharma,’ and the impact that changing regulations and insurance coverage are having on the ‘business’ of medicine. This includes who (which patients) and what (which conditions) get treated and covered, as well as what is prescribed and whether those choices are consistently made in our best interest.

How do we ensure more transparency through mechanisms such as advocacy groups and third-party organizations providing information, education and resources?

How do we ensure people with stigmatized conditions get the treatment they need, when they need it?

According to Mental Health America, 56% of adults with a mental illness in the USA do not receive treatment (2018 data). For patients with conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, post-natal depression and addiction, seeking help can be difficult and healthcare providers may not recognize or be aware of the symptoms being suffered. In other cases, those physicians may not be prepared to treat conditions that they feel are not in their specialty or area of responsibility. For a patient, not receiving treatment early enough can have serious consequences.

How do we further improve access to treatment – such as walk-in clinics, telemedicine and smartphone apps – to overcome these barriers and make it easier to get care?

How do we shift from a mindset of “sick care” to “well care”?

The US healthcare system is built around treating illnesses & injuries (whether chronic or acute). With illness comes anxiety, unease, and often, overwhelm for both those afflicted and their caregivers. While healthcare providers do their best to treat and support, there is the additional burden of insurance coverage, claims, etc., compounding the “pain” at a time when we are least able to handle it.

If our approach to healthcare was re-engineered as “well care”, what impact would that have on our health outcomes?

Note - This is an informal sharing event, views shared represent personal opinions, not those of any company.