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Patient empowerment – when the patient becomes a proactive player

25 March 2015 - 10:45

Our environment is changing, influenced by factors such as chronic conditions, ageing population, new technologies and financial constraints. Moreover, patients are looking for more autonomy and can now be considered as experts of their illness. This is mainly due to their own experience but also because of the easier access to information. In this context, health systems must also evolve to reflect this reality. The relationship between patient and doctor needs to to be reconsidered.

We are moving from a paternalistic model, where the doctor takes all decisions for the patient, towards a deliberative model where the decision process is collaborative. The role of the patient in treatment evolves from a passive user to an active actor of his/her own health. Nevertheless, the ability of the patient to define what is good for him is not obvious. Patients are above all human beings, meaning they do not all have the same approach, that hey might be confronted to conflicting wills and encounter difficulties to make rational choices or to project themselves into the future.

The notions of trust and responsibility are essential in the patient-doctor relationship, but the major difficulty is to find the right balance between a model where the doctor decides everything and a model where he takes into account patients desire of autonomy.

To summarize, patient empowerment is a process where patients gain control over their health condition and more largely over their life, increasing their capacity to act on issues that they define as important themselves. In this process, patients are able to express their needs, to present their concerns, and to take action to meet those needs. In other words, the decision process evolves to a collaborative decision-making between the patient and its doctor.

To go further in the patient empowerment approach, and UCL joined forces for organization of a seminar “Patient empowerment” on February 5, 2015. The main objective was to reconcile the hospital-academic perspective on this topic with the patient perspective through start-ups developing tools dedicated chronically-ill patients.

Esperity  – The first multilingual support community for cancer patients aiming at connecting and empowering cancer patients.

Yagram – Interactive apps for patients and their care providers focusing on treatment compliance. (also read “Patient Empowerment through the eyes of Yagram“)

Marjore – Platform is to support healthcare providers and provide patients social empowerment with diabetes. (also read “Patient Empowerment through the eyes of Marjore“)

Abrumet  – The Brussels Health Network is a project . It is a network for sharing information and links all hospitals in Brussels with general practitioners. The aim is to  pool medical documents on a platform available for all practitioners.

HealthCompass – A UCL-ULB consortium bringing together a multidisciplinary team to support the empowerment of the patient through the development of a scalable platform of multimedia tools. This platform is designed to improve the medical care and foster communication between the patient, his/her family and the healthcare team.