Building Patient Partnerships in Healthcare

Building Patient Advocacy and Partnerships in Healthcare

As the healthcare industry continues to evolve, its landscape has shifted towards a more patient-centered approach, where patients are no longer just recipients of care but are active partners in their healthcare journey. This approach recognizes that patients are experts in their own healthcare needs and preferences and that they have unique insights that can help improve the quality of care provided to them. This partnership with patients encompasses various practices that are closely interconnected, such as effective communication, active listening, shared decision-making, self-management support, and care planning. It is becoming widely recognized that adopting these practices can enhance the safety and quality of healthcare, improve patient outcomes and satisfaction, and improve adherence to legislative regulations.

In this article, we will explore what patient advocacy means in the context of healthcare, how it benefits both the patients and the healthcare provider, and what the future of healthcare looks like with this partnership at the forefront. 

What is Patient Advocacy in Healthcare?

Patient advocacy in healthcare refers to the process of supporting and empowering patients to make informed decisions about their healthcare. This involves providing patients with the information and resources they need to make decisions that are in their best interest. Patient advocacy includes advocating for patients’ rights, ensuring that they receive the treatment they need and deserve, as well as providing them with the tools necessary to navigate the healthcare system. It also aims to address disparities in healthcare. According to the American Medical Association, minority patients are more likely to experience disparities in healthcare, such as receiving lower-quality care or facing barriers to accessing care. Patient advocates work towards removing these disparities by advocating for equal access to quality healthcare for all patients. Prioritizing and working with patient advocacy groups helps create a healthcare system where the healthcare workers and patients can work together to build strong partnerships that improve the quality of medical care. 

The Benefits of Patient Advocacy and Partnerships for Healthcare Providers and Patients

Patient advocacy and partnerships are essential in healthcare because they increase patient engagement and help to ensure that patients receive the best possible care and treatment. Here are some of the benefits attained through building patient advocacy and partnerships in healthcare:

  • Improving healthcare outcomes: Partnerships in healthcare can enhance healthcare outcomes by providing appropriate and efficacious care to patients. A more personalized care planning approach empowers patients and gives them a voice in their own treatment process. When patients are actively involved in the decision-making process and have access to information and resources, they are more likely to adhere to treatment plans, manage chronic conditions more effectively, and report higher levels of satisfaction with their care. 
  • Addressing disparities: Collaborating with patients and advocacy groups helps identify gaps or inefficiencies in the healthcare system. By working with patients from diverse backgrounds, healthcare providers and organizations can better understand their unique healthcare needs and challenges. This can lead to developing targeted interventions and strategies to address these disparities and ensure that all patients receive the highest quality of care.
  • Enhancing patient safety: When actively involved, patients are more likely to ask questions, share concerns, and provide valuable feedback to their providers, which can help prevent medical errors and improve the overall safety of care. Additionally, patient partnerships can help identify and address safety concerns within the healthcare system, such as gaps in communication, inadequate resources or staffing, and other issues that may impact patient safety.
  • Improving drug development: According to research, incorporating patient input in the early stages of the development process can help prevent the need for protocol amendments, improve patient enrollment in clinical trials, adherence, and retention, and ultimately accelerate product launch by up to 2.5 years. The financial value generated by this early patient engagement is estimated to be 500 times greater than the initial investment in patient involvement.
  • Fostering innovation: Patient advocacy and partnership foster innovation by encouraging collaboration between different stakeholders in healthcare, including patients, healthcare providers, researchers, and industry partners. This collaboration can lead to the development of innovative solutions to healthcare challenges that might not have been possible without the input of patients and their advocates and also aid researchers in identifying new research questions and areas of focus.
  • Increasing patient engagement: A survey conducted by Healthline found that individuals with medical conditions who follow health influencers have an 85% higher likelihood of visiting health websites that are partnered with those influencers. By displaying authenticity and openness, patients and advocates can create strong bonds within the community by sharing personal experiences, which leads to increased engagement, conversion, and encourages health-related behaviors, improving overall health and well-being.

Overcoming Challenges in Building Partnerships in Healthcare 

Building patient advocacy and partnerships in healthcare can be challenging for several reasons. One of the biggest challenges is a lack of awareness and understanding of the benefits of patient engagement among healthcare providers and organizations. Furthermore, there is also the potential for conflicts of interest, as patient advocates and healthcare providers may have different priorities and agendas. Additionally, there may be logistical challenges in coordinating communication and collaboration between patients and healthcare providers.

To overcome these challenges, it is essential to establish clear guidelines and protocols for patient engagement and partnership. This includes identifying key stakeholders, establishing clear roles and responsibilities, and creating open lines of communication. Promoting education and awareness of patient advocacy among healthcare providers, patients, and the public is also important. 

One of the major obstacles in healthcare today is regulating the dissemination of information to patients, particularly through social media platforms. Numerous health influencers and channels are emerging and gaining popularity, especially since the pandemic. While influencers can connect with patients and raise awareness about certain health conditions, they may also promote unproven or even harmful treatments or have undisclosed affiliations with pharmaceutical companies. To overcome this challenge, it is imperative that patients always consult with their healthcare provider before making any decisions about their healthcare. By taking a proactive approach to manage patient education, we can help mitigate the risks associated with misinformation and promote informed decision-making in healthcare.

The Future of Patient Advocacy and Partnerships in Healthcare

The future of patient advocacy and partnerships in healthcare looks promising as more healthcare organizations and providers recognise the value of involving patients in their own care. The new participatory approach, where patients play an active role in their care, will facilitate proactive and preventive models of care, leading to better health outcomes for individuals and communities. Technology is also playing a significant role, with the development of patient-centred health apps and digital health platforms that enable patients to access information, track their health, and communicate with their healthcare providers.

Patient advocacy and partnerships are also increasingly being recognised as key factors in driving innovation in healthcare. Patients bring a unique perspective to the table, with their lived experiences helping to shape the development of new treatments, therapies, and medical devices. As more patients become involved in the drug development process and clinical trials, there is potential for more effective and personalised treatments to be developed. However, it is essential to ensure that patient involvement is done in a responsible and ethical manner, with appropriate safeguards in place to protect patients’ rights and interests. 

InflaMed driven by Patient Advocacy

InflaMed is a health-tech platform founded by Mari Robert, a resilient entrepreneur passionate about revolutionizing the approach to chronic allergies and eczema based on her own experience with these conditions. Having experienced the challenges of living with these conditions, she is a dedicated patient ambassador and advocate who wants to help transform the lives of those who struggle with chronic inflammatory conditions. With her expertise and commitment to creating positive change, she has created a state-of-the-art platform that provides self-management care solutions and empowers individuals to make informed decisions about their health through shared decision-making.

InflaMed strives to offer a platform for patients to enhance their understanding of their medical condition and establish communication with their healthcare providers through the app. The inflamed app enables patients to enter personalized data that can be accessed by their practitioners, aiding in the development of a more individualized treatment plan for their condition. InflaMed strives to add value with patient advocacy and partnerships and contribute to building trust and communication between patients and healthcare providers. 

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