The empowered patient, the 2.0 patient, the e-patient … technology is changing more and more the relationship between patients, healthcare professionals and health institutions. Collaborative technologies not only change the relationship, but the roles of each of the actors. Basically giving more information to patients and creating new communication channels. For this reason, in the Anglo-Saxon world more and more healthcare institutions seek patient engagement and transform themselves in patient centric organizations.
How is the situation in Spain? In this post we talk with José María Cepeda about technology, patient empowerment and healthcare organizations that focus on patients. José María Cepeda is one of the most renowned health 2.0 experts. He has more than 15 years of experience in nursing. His blog Salud Conectada is a reference in Spain. He is also author of a good practical 2.0 handbook for healthcare professionals.
As healthcare professional, how do you value patient participation and empowerment in healing chances? Is there scientific evidence for that?
I believe, as a professional, that patient participation en everything related to their health is key. We are talking for years about putting patients in the center of the system, while -at the same time- implementing policies and strategies that put professionals or institutions in the center. If it is true that we live in a society that is becoming every day more participative and keen to take decisions on that questions affecting our life, health is certainly were participation has more impact.
There are studies that show that those people that are more active and have more knowledge are able to take decisions about their health, to control some symptoms of their disease and, in consequence, to make a more efficient use of the healthcare system, For this reason every day we witness more healthcare systems that include active patient programs or patient schools, that help empower people. In Spain, some regions like Andalucía or the Basque Country are already achieving good results with these programs.
To what extend are Spanish hospitals aware of the importance of engaging patients in the design of their processes and treatments?
As far as I know only a few hospitals include patient experience in their service design; especially in the public sector. As long as we think in terms of “all for the patient, but without the patient” we will be losing the opportunity to activate the healthcare system’s best asset: the patient. Besides, engaging citizens in process design beyond their treatment means establishing a continuous relationship between the institution, professionals and patients: continuous service improvement would be the consequence.
A connected patient is an empowered patient?
A connected patient is a person that is skilled in the use of technologies; which mean san advantage regarding other patients that are no connected, since he can take advantage of technology on every aspect of life, including health. Connected does not mean empowered; although more resources are available to that person in order to improve health.
What is the contribution of new technologies to a better patient experience and towards a society demanding patient centered hospitals?
Technology allows us to reach patients in a much more easier way. Institutions and professionals can thus adapt better to patient needs. In this sense technology behaves as a mean to get closer; an excellent means to provide information and skilling in specific aspects of patient’s health. Furthermore, not only institutions and professionals benefit from closer relationships. Technology brings also patients closer to each other, to other patients in similar conditions. A way to learn and a way not to stay alone.
Used that way, technologies put patients in the center and allow them to participate more engaged in every aspect of their health.