National Volunteer Week is April 7-13, 2019! This week provides an opportunity to recognize the important role that volunteers play. Alberta Health Services is recognizing its over 14,400 volunteers. One of these individuals is also a member of our Pts4Chg community. Thanks for all you do, Gloria.
Gloria Wilkinson volunteers as a patient advisor with the Emergency SCN. Her perspective is considered equally with research and evidence. “It’s the only way to improve patient outcomes – the ones that matter to the patient,” says Gloria. pic.twitter.com/tkHBOS9hhF
The term “patient engagement” is one that is frequently stated and bantered about. However, what does it really mean? Why is such engagement important? How can patient engagement be fostered and promoted, so it becomes more than a theoretical idea or ideology and something that is real and realized?
According to Dr. Anhalt, an individual who treats pediatric patients with type 1 diabetes and chief medical officer for T1D Exchange, patient engagement is critical. Among other things, it sees patients becoming engaged in their own care, resulting in living healthier lives and experiencing better outcomes. Based on this understanding, Dr. Anhalt discusses tips for successful patient engagement. They include: educating patient and families, encouraging patients to engage in their health outside of a doctor’s office and using all patient interactions as opportunities for learning. To read the full article, click here.
According to David Gilbert, author of the Future Patient Blog, there is an opportunity to make radical changes in the area of healthcare. This requires that people, including patients and the general public, are given their rightful responsibilities and accountability. Gilbert maintains that patients can help to improve the healthcare system. However, for this to occur, the manner in which patients are viewed, treated and the understanding and approach of patient engagement must be changed.
We do not live in normal healthcare times of course. The pressures on healthcare delivery in a changing society seem not be accompanied by any coherent vision of how to cope with those changes. The desperation for a new sense of order and the tendency to kick the cat seems actually to be increasing. Though national agencies may talk of letting go, the sense of grip and pressure felt at a local level is intense. Polarisation and power battles are inevitable.
I believe that patients can help.
Patients can be true partners for improvement and change. They can help identify what matters, rethink problems, generate solutions, model better relationships, promote better decisions and improve practice. (see, The Seven Things That Patients Bring). But, at the moment we are all hamstrung by bad habits.
The way we think about patients’ contributions is stuck in a time warp, our mindset constrained by an outmoded view of what patients can bring (or cannot). Moreover, the way we do patient and public engagement is not working – it fails to have any real impact because it is outmoded and unfit for purpose. In part, it was never designed to bring real change, but to buffer it and maintain the status quo. Now, if we really want solutions to our current healthcare challenges, this all needs to change.