FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions
What is patient empowerment?
The average lifespan of Europeans is becoming longer. In Poland, men live on average 73 years while women live 81 years. The longer lifespan often equals many years of living with a chronic condition. Creating an effective healthcare system for such individuals is challenging and the concept of patient empowerment can be help to achieve that goal. Patient empowerment puts patients in the centre of the healthcare system. This allows for the health and social welfare services to be designed in such a way that patients are able to take control of meeting their own health needs. It is not a coincidence that the level of education is related to lifespan. Individuals with university level education live a dozen or so years longer that those who only completed primary school education. Educated patients, who lead a healthy lifestyle, take measures to prevent disease and cooperate with their doctor during treatment, have a better change to live a long and pleasant life.
What are the main assumptions of patient empowerment?
Patient empowerment allows patients to better understand the functioning of the healthcare system. It makes the various treatment pathways easier to navigate and the relevant treatment information and support easier to locate when a need arises. Patient empowerment is about active, self-confident patients, who know their rights and can make sure they are being respected.
Empowered patients are ones that:
understand their health condition and know how it might affect their future
actively participate in the decision making regarding their treatment process because they have the necessary information and communication skills
know how important it is for their health to make the necessary lifestyle changes
are partners in their interactions with specialists and decision-makers
are aware that they have a partial responsibility for the condition of their health
What challenges does patient empowerment pose for healthcare?
In some European countries, such as Denmark and Great Britain, the healthcare system is based on building cooperation between patients and their families, and medical personnel in order to increase the efficacy of treatment. The challenges posed by patient empowerment are the same regardless the geographical location, however, which is a great news for us!
The list of challenges includes:
changing the way of thinking about the doctor-patient relationship, from patriarchal to one based on partnership
creating a clearer healthcare system to make it easier for patients to navigate during all stages of treatment
providing interpersonal skills training for doctors
simplifying the information relating to the healthcare system and treatment options and improving the ease of access to that information
What is patient centricity?
Patient centricity can be described as the patient being in the heart of health activities. The development of the Internet made it easier for patients to access treatment information, thus increasing their position. This is especially true for young patients suffering from chronic conditions, whose outcomes heavily depend upon healthy lifestyle and treatment compliance. Patient centricity is a justified revolution shaping strong personalities and patients that make informed choices regarding their treatment. The idea of patient centricity directly impacts on research directions, system cost reductions, and relationships between doctors and patients.
What is the partnership between doctor and patient?
To date, the doctor-patient relationship has been paternalistic and devoid of empathy. Patients would subordinate themselves to their doctors and saw no need to try and understand their assigned treatment. Today this relationship is changing into one based on partnership, where the patient’s voice is important. The role of patients in the decision-making process has increased dramatically. Even though doctors are still the leaders, it is a different kind of leadership. It is different because patients became managers of their health.
How does a patient-centred system impact on economy?
Effective communication between doctors and patients and their families plays the key role in a patient-centred system. Effective communication increases the effectiveness of treatments and decreases the time it takes for treatments to produce positive outcomes. In the case of chronic condition, this often enables patients to go back to work sooner. The costs associated with medical errors and the lack of trust in hospitals and medical specialists are much higher than these associated with providing interpersonal skills training for doctors and patients.
What can we do to transform the doctor-patient relationship and the health care system?
The three elements signalling the inevitable change for the better are: patient empowerment, patient centricity and the partnership between doctors and patients. The transformation begins with changing our way of thinking. And for that to occur, an open discussion on the topic is needed.
What is the role of the Institute of Health Communication in that process?
The Institute of Health Communication will contribute to changing the attitudes held by medical and pharmacy staff personnel as well as patients. Workshops organised by the Institute cover topics such as leadership and interpersonal communication skills, relationship building and image management. By offering these workshops, the Institute contributes to the improved quality of health care in Poland.
Additionally, the Institute of Health Communication will produce effective social media campaigns on health related topics utilising the results of the sophisticated language and social analyses and thus contribute to changing the way of thinking about health.
We also help hospitals become more patient-friendly.
We organise innovative conferences on health-related topics.
We create educational and informational films on health and prevention-related topics.
What are some benefits offered by the Institute of Health Communication workshops?
The workshops are tailor-made to fit individual needs. They allow patients, doctors and pharmaceutical company managers to develop their interpersonal and leadership skills, which in turn will make them more successful in their respective fields.