As we continue to develop tools and resources that enable patients to become more informed about their own health, we start empowering patients to engage and make educated decisions that best suit their personal goals.
When patients take the time to educate themselves on their diagnosis, they show their healthcare practitioner that they are invested in the outcome of their treatment. Below, we’ve listed 5 key benefits of why it’s important to inspire patients to learn more about their own health.
1. It prevents diseases and/or teaches patients how to detect them.
By regularly monitoring symptoms and keeping an eye on new or worsening symptoms, patients, in some cases, are able to prevent their disease from getting worse. Asking a practitioner what to look for is often the first step in empowering patients to take charge of their own healthcare journey. Ignoring issues may only make treatment more difficult. In any practitioner-patient relationship, patients should feel confident to express when they are not well.
A prime example of learning how to detect diseases is understanding the likelihood of breast cancer in women. 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime and those that have relatives that have had breast cancer are more likely to receive it themselves. If a patient knows that their loved one developed breast cancer, their doctor can educate them on how to self-examine on a regular basis and may even get them in for an early mammogram.
2. It encourages open communication between practitioners and patients.
By learning about their own health, patients can come better prepared for discussions with their healthcare practitioners. They can engage in conversations and take an active role in achieving their health goals. By facilitating research-based conversations, practitioners and patients create a collaborative partnership that leads to more satisfying treatment for the patient as well as more personalized care tailored to the patient’s unique needs.
3. It lends to a higher level of health literacy, leading to better patient outcomes.
By educating themselves about their own treatment, patients are improving their health literacy. Improving health literacy often leads to a better understanding of treatment options, prescription suggestions, and ways of navigating the healthcare system that lead to the best possible results. Using knowledge distillation tools, practitioners can help patients actively participate in their own care and properly interpret health information, facilitating a more open and mutually beneficial dialogue.
4. It enables patients to choose the appropriate treatment.
By utilizing knowledge-based tools and resources, patients are able to better understand all treatment options and make informed, value-based decisions. This can include: review of all available treatment options and evaluation of each from a provider and patient perspective.
5. It motivates patients to follow treatment recommendations.
When we are empowering patients with knowledge and multiple treatment options, they are more likely to follow the course of treatment they choose collaboratively with their practitioner and stay committed to the designed routines or regimens. Patients tend to be more compliant and accepting of medications, therapies and lifestyle changes when they know they participated in the plan of action.
Empowering patients to be active participants in their own care not only leads to better health outcomes for them, but also for the practitioner as well. Patients that are educated and involved often have better quality of care and the motivation they need to achieve better health outcomes. Patient-centred care is the focus of healthcare and creating tools and resources to facilitate collaboration will leave both the patient and practitioner satisfied with the results.