At its very core, healthcare is a business. In other industries, consumer satisfaction drives loyalty, and return customers drive profitability. Health care should be no different. If patient empowerment is to be a sustainable growth strategy, it must not only deliver a positive ROI, but also a complete solution.
Patient empowerment is a living, breathing, evolving thing. It looks different for each of us, and it can change with time and by disease and severity.
Touch points for a patients before he shops around for validated information.
Pre-register patients for a visit via a patient portal, have patients complete electronic health status questionnaire. Have validated and vetted information from other patients about their experiences through various processes and protocol during his stay in the hospital. Also, during his stay in the hospital it is prudent to provide a medication list during hospitalization. Also to train patient and family members on how to sign up for and use patient portals. Provide discharge instructions through the patient portal.
After the patient is discharged from the hospital to provide appointment reminders via patient portal, mobile devices,provide patient education on conditions, especially post-procedure instructions.
To succeed in a value-based environment where patients have more choice then ever when it comes to providers, success, ultimately, will depend on attracting patients, providing great service and care, engaging patients in their care pre- and post-discharge, and, not to be ignored, keeping your organization top-of-mind once a care episode has ended so you’ll be the provider-of-choice for future care needs.
Finally, there may be some obstacles against patient empowerment. First, citizens must able to trust in technology empowering them in order to play their proactive roles. Thus, considering carefully, the application of technology to empower patients is required. For example, Web pages as information sources are promising for rising health literacy of patients, but they can lead to misunderstandings and wrong decisions without a precise assessment by trustworthy third party; or privacy and confidentiality of information flows from/to EHR and PHR should not be a secondary feature of systems. Indeed, security is an essential requirement on communication and health information systems, but only 6% of articles focus on (or include as complement) security mechanism.
Another major obstacle is reluctance of doctors to lose their power. Health professionals encourage citizens to be informed and adhere to their treatment plans, but sometimes more knowledge is not desirable. This fact is consequence of people using Internet as first source of health information without considering the harm that unreliable and understandable information can make. But a well‐educated patient through precisely assessed information sources by health professionals is a win–win scenario. Obviously, also citizens may desire to hold the status quo, that is, maintain a passive role on their health, as some studies pointed out previously.Thus, involved stakeholders’ attitudes towards PE will determine the real swift of health‐care delivery models and the role of each actor.
In conclusion, practical approaches to empower patients vary in scope, aim and technology. The set of areas where empowerment may be accomplished is so wide that almost any current initiative of ICT applied to health covers mechanisms for empowering patients. As has been reviewed, there exist different (in scope and autonomy grade of citizens) levels of empowerment that may be mapped to specific milestones. Current technology already allows establishing the first steps in the road ahead, but a change of attitude by all stakeholders (i.e. professionals, patients and policy makers) is required. Furthermore, despite motivation, PE strongly depends on accessibility of solutions and interfaces. For a real empowerment of patients, all citizens must be capable of accessing systems empowering them, no matter their digital literacy, economic level, education or disabilities. Therefore, if obstacles and gaps are successfully addressed, at medium‐term technology will ease the emergence of a new patient fully equipped for the health‐care challenging scenarios of the 21st century.