At CONNECT, our mission is to empower patients by helping them make confident, informed decisions about their own care. Patient agency is inspiring and empowering patients to take control over their own health and actively collaborate with professionals to make the best, most knowledgeable decisions. It’s important for healthcare professionals to listen and learn about patient needs and educate them on best practices and further opportunities so they feel secure in their own care.

Listed below are five reasons why advocating for patient agency is so important in today’s healthcare:

1. It opens up opportunities for improved patient outcomes.

By advocating for patients, you increase the timeliness and access to various steps of the patient journey. When patients are more educated about their own care, it decreases the amount of delays or obstacles they face that could negatively impact the outcome of their treatment. The faster that a patient has access to diagnostics and testing, the faster they get assessed and diagnosed and the faster they can begin the appropriate treatment. When patients are given the time to be properly monitored and managed, it often leads to more positive outcomes.

2. It addresses system delays in testing, diagnostics, and therapeutic intervention.

As mentioned above, the more knowledgeable patients are, the more light is shed on the delays that exist in the field. By filtering educational resources and making them patient-friendly, it gives patients the ability to ensure that they are properly scheduled for appointments and taking appropriate measures to better their care. When you collaborate and support patients, you encourage proactive communication among all parties, making sure that important information is conveyed on time. By addressing barriers and disparities in treatment, patients gain access to more equal opportunities to receive timely testing, fostering a culture of proactive patient engagement and participation.

3. It allows patients to take control of their journey.

As a patient, you want to feel like you are being heard and understood by your healthcare professionals. It’s crucial that you feel you have a say in your own care or the care of a loved one. In order to empower patients and allow them to take control of their own journey, they need to be given the tools and resources to do so. Informative apps, videos, documents, and brochures are all examples of ways you can help patients make more informed decisions and let them be the driver of their own care.

4. It helps them identify other providers and solutions.

In order to identify which route to take as a patient in your healthcare journey, you need to be informed of all of your options. Each patient has a unique set of requirements and preferences and it’s important to take those into consideration when finding the most suitable healthcare provider and solution that aligns with your needs. In this scenario, advocating for the patient means providing them with options, whether that be providers, facilities or treatment options. Passing on research about reputable care can help patients take charge of their own journey and choose what option(s) are best for their particular needs.

5. It allows patients to have a plan to navigate their disease.

In order for a patient to properly navigate their disease, they need to have a clear understanding of their condition — i.e. its nature, symptoms, triggers, and progression. By advocating for the patient, you are providing them with the benefits, risks and potential side effects of their options and letting them choose which treatment best aligns with their preferences. Empowering patients to lean into patient-practitioner collaboration will ultimately help patients better articulate their concerns, questions and goals for their treatment.

When it comes to modern healthcare, advocating for patient agency is of utmost importance. When we encourage patients to become involved in their own care, we inspire and empower them to feel confident and informed in their journey, rather than making them feel like they are in the dark. Through patient advocacy, we can create a more patient-centric healthcare system that’s focus is where it should be — with the patient.

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Carolyn Pritchard
Lorie Spence