For a long time, doctors were the experts in healthcare. They knew what’s wrong with the patient and there was little to no argument about their decisions and advice. But now this is changing, and some may fear it, because it questions what so far has been unquestioned.
Even though it might seem a little challenging from a doctor’s perspective, it is invaluable to empower patients. Active patient empowerment means that doctors acknowledge that patients can be experts as well. They are the ones living with the disease and they are actively searching for information on how to deal with their condition, so they often know better what is going on.
That is a new situation for the doctors who are trained to know as much as possible about the human body and it takes self-confidence to admit that a patient knows more about their specific condition than they do.
Enabling patients to deal properly with their disease and treatment makes them more independent and it reduces unnecessary visits to the doctor. Empowerment comes through good communication but this is rarely taught in medical education – it is time to change that.
If you are still asking why patient empowerment matters, it is because of the significant role patients play in healthcare. Looking to future, it is vital that patients are able to manage their own health and teach others to do so. This will help not only them, but doctors and other health professionals and indeed the healthcare system as a whole
I believe empowered patients can make a difference for the sustainability of healthcare systems.