The need for social change in healthcare patient engagement permeated each session at MedCity ENGAGE, held June 5-6 in Washington, DC. Changing attitudes and values by emphasizing the relationship between providers and patients seems to be the key to managing healthcare in a new way.
During the “Creating New Horizons in the Patient’s Journey - Emerging Trends and Best Practices” session, the panelists discussed what patient engagement means to them. Panelist and Health for America partner on our childhood asthma project, Dr. Ivor Horn of Children’s National Medical Center, believes patient engagement is a partnership between the patient and the provider, and they must work together to produce favorable results. “You are the expert on you. I am just the translator,” said Dr. Horn.
An aspect of this partnership is “self-efficacy,” meaning every patient should feel comfortable and speak openly with his or her provider. To help see this relationship in action, the Health for America Fellows will be working with Dr. Horn’s IMPACT DC Asthma Clinic, a program of the Children’s National Medical Center. This program builds strong relationships between patients and providers by creating a checklist to help patients ask better questions and become more involved in managing their health.
To drive the concept of patient engagement home, Dr. Linda Harris began her keynote with a humorous anecdote from primetime TV show, House. In this scene, Dr. House’s patient is complaining that her asthma wasn’t improving, and she was constantly having trouble breathing. House asked if she was using her inhaler frequently, and the patient answered that she was using it everyday. Dr. House asked the patient if she could show him how she used it. She complied and sprayed the medication on her neck.
Although this is probably a parody, it is true that 90% of patients don’t know how to use their healthcare products correctly. Communication and transparency are critical in healthcare delivery, which is why patient engagement is so important when trying to combat diseases and manage chronic conditions.
The MedCity ENGAGE conference highlighted the value of patient-doctor relationships and finding solutions for the gaps between discovery and delivery. This is why we, as Health for America Fellows, feel it is imperative to directly interact with and learn from patients and their families in order to bridge gaps in healthcare systems. Today, there are ways for patients to engage with providers that were unimaginable a generation before, and it is our hope that patient engagement will continue to evolve to a point that the current relationship would be unrecognizable to future generations.