For a long time health care was all about health care professionals taking control of a patients care, lacking involvement of the patient, which only enabled the patient once they were discharged from care. The last decade or so patients have been hearing the continuous message from health care professionals about getting involved in their care (Vahdat et al., 2014). Patients with chronic conditions should especially be taking control of their own health care, which includes taking medications properly and being on top of scheduling and attending appointments. I think what has changed mostly in patients having control of their own health care, is that health care professionals provide education and information to patients that uses involvement of health care professional and patient. This empowers patients to take control and see positive outcomes with their health. Doctors are known to be the point of contact of all the information, which is why I think for many years patients just had the health care professional take full control of their care because they had full trust in their knowledge and experience. Patients having control of their own health care is important when it comes to decision making about their health care. If the patient has always relies on health care professionals, they won’t have the knowledge of what decisions must be made to better their care (Flavo, 2011).
The biggest change I have seen with patients being able to have more control over their health care is patients now have full access to their own medical records which includes doctors notes, labs, and other results (Vahdat et al., 2014). Another reason why this change of patients having control of their health care has made an impact on medical costs according to a study in 2013. Patients who were encouraged to take control of their own health care were seen to have an overall of 5.3% lower medical costs, 12.5% fewer hospital admission and fewer elective surgeries (Vahdat et al., 2014). Of course, patient involvement is not new but it is becoming more of a necessity in the health care system. Overall, the best part about this change, is that empowers patients to stay healthy and have an easier access to their results and communication with their providers.
Falvo, D. (2011) Effective Patient Education: A guide to Increased Adherence. Retrieved from
The 21st Century Healthcare System has seen a shift from a paternalistic focus to a more collaborative approach with the health professional and the patient working together to plan the patient’s care. In the traditional health provider-patient relationship the physician is regarded as the authority figure with the knowledge and expertise having the sole responsibility for developing a treatment plan that was rarely challenged by the recipients. However, the healthcare system has evolved to give patients more autonomy to manage chronic conditions proactively and make informed decisions about treatment options. Research indicates that shared decision-making leads to better treatment outcomes, fewer elective surgeries, hospital admissions, and lower health costs. According to Falvo, (2011), the concept of patient-centered care has expanded to all areas of healthcare and is linked to increased patient satisfaction and increased quality of care as well as patient adherence to treatment. Patient-centered care is fostered by a partnership between the health professional and the patient that is built on mutual respect and incorporates the patient’s wishes and active participation.
Research done by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality indicates that when patients are engaged in their care it can lead to measurable improvements in safety and quality and has developed an evidence-based resource guide known as ‘A Guide to Patient and Family Engagement in Hospital Quality & Safety,’ that can be used to help nurses work in partnership with patients and their families. (Sherman, 2014). Health institutions stand to benefit from productive relationships with patients and families because the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has also shifted its reimbursement system to a value-based program linked to patient outcomes and patient satisfaction. The ability of patients and their families to effectively engage in their healthcare is contingent on factors such as their knowledge, attitudes, and health literacy. Many patients are hesitant about taking the responsibility of participating in health decision making because they feel overwhelmed by the prospect. There are some health professionals who are also resisting the change to the new model of patient-provider partnership. The nurse is in a unique position to create an environment conducive to this model of patient partnership.
The old model of health teaching limited to brief instructions and a few handouts at discharge is inadequate and many patients have begun to demand answers and express their dissatisfaction. Since patients are now expected to assume more personal responsibility for their health decisions, effective patient teaching requires that the health professional thinks beyond merely providing information but focus on customizing recommendations to meet the patient’s specific needs.(Falvo,2011). When patients are given adequate knowledge and the rationale for treatment, they develop the confidence and sense of control that empowers them to make health decisions that result in improved treatment outcomes. Computer technology has greatly enhanced patients’ knowledge and ability to take charge of their health and become familiar with a vast array of therapeutic options, disease prevention, and disease management methods. As nurses, we must embrace health care reform that facilitates patient engagement and assist patients in their healthcare journey throughout the continuum of care.
Falvo, D. (2011). Effective patient education. A guide to increased adherence. https://viewer.gcu.edu/RQBKXW
Sherman, R. (2014). The patient engagement imperative. American Nurse Today. https://reasearchgate.net/publication/200036096_The_patient_engagement_imperative/link
Vahdat, S., Hamzehgardeshi, L., Hessam, S., & Hamzehgardeshi, Z. (2014). Patient involvement in health care decision making: a review. Iranian Red Crescent medical journal, 16(1), e12454. https://doi.org/10.5812/ircmj.12454