June, 17, 2015
PATIENT EMPOWERMENT AND CENTREDNESS
There is a widespread consensus that empowering patients is good for healthcare systems. Empowerment is increasingly recognised as an essential element of future high-quality, patient-centred healthcare systems with regard to tackling the expanding burden of chronic diseases. Patients are expected to take more control over their illnesses or treatments where possible, and doctors are expected to encourage or ’empower’ them to do so. But how do we translate this into reality at all levels (i.e. individual, organisational, and national)?
The Patient Empowerment and Centredness Committee call for the adoption of a Pan-European framework to ensure that patient empowerment is a top priority for Europe’s healthcare systems and contributes to improved healthcare across Europe’s national realities. Achieving patient-centredness is a key enabler in the process of creating sustainable and equitable systems for all.
A concrete action plan on health literacy and information to patients relating to all aspects of health is needed. Although empowerment is much more than education, the right information and resources are fundamental tools for enabling patients to become equal partners in the team managing their health.
The informed patient also needs a counterpart: the health professional who creates the right environment to enable patients’ active participation in the decision-making process. There is clearly a need for targeted education of health professionals to build the skillset needed to effectively communicate with empowered patients, and to provide advice to less empowered patients on how they can take a more active part in the management of their condition.
This strategy should embed patient involvement at every level of the health system. This involves supporting the active participation of citizens with chronic diseases in their own care, but also in policy-making and in designing future care delivery systems.
EHP papers_Patients empowerment