Today’s patients distrust many aspects of the healthcare system—the regulators, the medical gatekeepers, the drug producers—and grow continually more resolved to take charge of their own treatments. The well-publicized examples of unsafe drugs and the rising cost of healthcare are key drivers of today’s movement toward “patient- centricity.” As out-of-pocket expenses increase—due to the dwindling levels of insurance coverage, rising co-pays and large numbers of people completely uninsured—patients insist on knowing more about potential treatment options, and demand that this information be supported by real-world evidence.
At the same time, expanding knowledge resources, such as the Internet, provide consumers with the opportunity to proactively learn more about their own or their loved ones’ medical conditions, treatment options and to even interact with other patients around the world. Consequently, patients play a crucial role in today’s healthcare, and that trend appears poised to escalate and drive further changes in the industry.
After decades of pushing by advocacy groups, the concept of a more consumer-based healthcare model has finally begun to take hold, even among healthcare providers. Although medical professionals many remain wary of the patient who arrives at an appointment with a list of questions and stack of Internet research, others are beginning to see the benefits of a more knowledgeable, engaged patient—not just for their own practice, but also for the healthcare system as a whole.
Still, no simple strategy empowers all patients. No obvious steps can magically make every treatment safe and effective for every patient in all scenarios. No technology will prevent all medication errors. Nothing will ever make the Internet or any other means of electronic communication infallible. In fact, medical challenges sweep across every aspect of human health and the role of patients in it. Still, these very challenges set the bar for future healthcare. Although the bar for improved health sits high, life and death literally depend on getting over this obstacle, and it cannot be scaled alone.
Via PEAS Healthcare