September 15, 2010

Patient Engagement by Jim Bloedau of Information Advantage Group

All of us are aware that advances in medicine promise increases in the length and quality of our lives. However, obtaining the benefit of these advances to prevent, manage and cure disease depends increasingly on individuals’ energy, knowledge and skills, regardless of whether they are sick or well.

Better surgical techniques and post-op support mean that people return home from the hospital quicker – they may also be returning home a bit more debilitated than in the past and they or a care giver must assume part of the responsibility for procedures like pain management, feeding and rehabilitation that were formerly done by professionals.

Pharmaceutical advancements enable those with chronic diseases to have a better and longer life - but to do so, they must maintain increasingly complex drug and lifestyle routines over time.

There is a flood of new sources of information about “best-care”, wellness and the professionals delivering it - in order to ensure they are receiving effective treatment that meets their needs, patients and caregivers have a lot to learn and trade-offs to weigh.

Seeing these trends, Thomas Lee M.D. and James Mongan M.D. in Chaos and Organization in Health Care see an optimized marriage between primary care and the medical home in 2020 pivoting on:

Greater coordination of care integrated across a comprehensive care team,
Increase support from technology in the form of support from clinical information systems and access to provider performance data,
A strong shift toward greater patient engagement and feedback and
Compressing the time it takes to get appropriate care.

Some of these improvements are designed to minimize demands placed on a system that has not kept up with the emerging needs of delivering a promised level of care. Most strikingly, these predicted practices and responsibilities are partially a product of consumers having greater access to information and learning that they do better when they are engaged and have a say in their care.

The rewards of engaging the consumer are enjoyed first by the patient and their families as suffering and high financial, social and emotional costs are minimized and secondly by a society that optimizes the use of resources to advance better outcomes and diminish the disparities in health. This can only come from a renewed commitment by all stakeholders to make certain that each person has the chance to participate knowledgably and effectively in their care to the best that they are able.

image credit: neovain

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