EPF launch conference kick-off was one of EPF’s best-attended meetings to date – a fact that highlights the level of importance that stakeholders attach to the concept of patient empowerment.
In our lives we expect – indeed demand – to have a say in the way services are delivered. If we engage an architect, we take into account their expertise but we expect them to deliver what we want from a building – not just what they want to give us. This is what we should expect from healthcare systems as well.
With the technological change we have witnessed in recent years, taking direct control of other areas of our lives has become natural. Take, for example, television: we used to watch what we were given, at the time of the broadcaster’s choosing. This is no longer the case. We can now watch what we want, when we want. We use social media to interact with others about programmes and we can even influence the outcomes of programmes. We are no longer passive consumers. This is the level of co-decision making we should expect from healthcare systems.
With the launch of EPF’s campaign, we have seen that there is a significant level of motivation within the patient community – and among other stakeholders. We also know that we have an external environment pre-disposed to the concept of patient empowerment. But what about the political environment?
I would argue that the time is right here as well. We have seen a Copernican revolution in Brussels over the past few months. Decision-making has become more political and more top-down than we have ever seen before. What happens at national and Brussels level has become more intertwined. The impact of events in one member state can be seen in other countries – think Brexit or Grexit. This combination provides the patient community with a perfect opportunity to set the agenda – their agenda – both in Brussels and at national level.
Patients have achieved so much over the past few years: they have made their voice heard and they have secured a seat at the table. Now comes the opportunity to make sure patients’ needs are at the centre of the healthcare systems that patients themselves co-design. Now is the time to win the argument for patient empowerment.