The role healthcare can play in patient advocacy

Oct 5, 2021 | Advance Care Planning, Australian Aged Care, Carers Advice

Patient advocacy has always been a part of great healthcare. But the nature of patient advocacy is changing and changing fast.

Our very own Rebecca Glover had the privilege of moderating a discussion on patient advocacy recently at the TalkingHealth Spring Summit. If you are a TalkingHealth member, you can watch the action replay.

Thanks Australian HealthTech Podcaster, Director, Consultant & Investor, Peter Birch, and Operations Manager at Talking HealthTech, Alex Smith, for the opportunity to moderate such an interesting discussion. And thanks to CEO of Brand Medicine International, Julia Walsh, CEO at Personify Care, Ken Saman, and CEO at Savvy Cooperative , Jen Horonjeff,  for your insights!

The talk- and indeed the days event program- highlighted a very important point for healthcare start-ups, clinicians and care community builders alike. Now is the time to increase its abilities with technology to help make patient advocacy an integral part of the healthcare experience.

Here are some great insights from that session on patient advocacy at the Talking HealthTech Spring Summit. And how it got the team at ExSitu thinking about strengthening relations between healthcare providers and patients in real terms

Legislation and social media challenges

Discussed as part of the patient advocacy talk at the summit, many people turn to google for health information. Yet legislation prevents prescription information being published.

a stethoscope is curled up on a sheet to indicate patient advocacy in healthcare.

Photo by Hush Naidoo Jade Photography via Unsplash

This means that social media influencers are filling the gap as they face no such regulation.

Our lack of transparency, whether that is driven by privacy-related concerns through to reducing liability creates a perceived disparity when patients are greeted with more certain, upfront and outwardly confident options.

The problem is also compounded by how food-related health advice is regulated. Where voluntary codes and best practice guides operate to manage claims made by businesses, social media health influencers gain freedom.

The success of a treatment or impact of a diagnosis is influenced by many factors. Medical professionals can’t provide the tailored, customised information patients seek on a blog or via social media.

People seek an almost unreasonable level of certainty from healthcare and medicine. They also want clear paths, quick fixes and solutions. Yet the nature of healthcare, medicine and science means that sometimes, there are no easy answers. And the path to treatment may be convoluted and nuanced.

As more and more people choose to follow the self-confident influencer’s ways to health or through diagnosis or life stages, the difficulty may increase.

Healthcare professionals have to consider what information may assist in bridging the gap to provide the best care possible. And we need to work out ways to connect earlier to create the conditions necessary for patient advocacy.

Speaking the patient’s language is vital

Good patient advocacy includes not only the understanding that a person is not a medical professional. It includes making space for the person to react and respond to medical news in a human, non-professional way.

People often walk out of a consultation and forget most of what the doctor said. The shock of the information, the alien nature of the language used, and even the particular health issue can all influence a person’s recall. Plus, we should never discount the nature of relationship between patient and healthcare professional may mean the information is taken at face value. Even if it is not completely understood.

The complexity of information makes it difficult for patients and healthcare professionals to communicate effectively.

Some of the ways we as healthcare professionals can bridge the gap is through:

  • Using plain English terminology wherever possible. This includes in discussion as well as providing supporting information for the patient to take home
  • Encouraging patients to take notes about conversations to aid in recall and sharing information with friends and family later
  • Using reflective meaning and asking the patient to summarise and articulate what they understand of the information they have received after it has been delivered
  • Remembering that each patient is an expert in their own life. Using strength-based techniques, information can be used to empower a patient as part of their healthcare journey. By understanding what the information means, the patient can make informed choices about treatment, understand what care plans and supports they may need, and feel as though they still maintain a semblance of control in their life.

By taking the time to reduce the complexity inherent in the information we provide, we can build trust with patients. This trust can then translate into better discussions about treatment options. And less opportunity for a patient to seek healthcare advice elsewhere.

Technology creates time for patient advocacy

The smarter we are when researching and documenting how we provide care and the better able we are to complete the tasks that make up day-to-day care efficiently, the more space we create for individualised, attentive and reassuring patient care.

And the more time we have to deliver this care, the better our patient advocacy outcomes will be.

Technology is playing a big role in helping us better understand the journey of patients. It supports healthcare providers to make decisions that align with the wishes of those they care for. ExSitu is one such example of placing patient’s wishes at the centre of disability, aged, end-of-life and general care planning. It is not the only example on the market.

The field of healthcare is dominated by paperwork. Charts, reporting, regulations, the latest drug and treatment discoveries, internal policies, industry compliance guidelines, papers published on experimental treatments and various sections of health- all this information is just the start.

Couple this with repetitive tasks, the capturing of granular informal information about a patient regarding personalised care ideas and processes, and standard care delivery, it is a wonder we have room for anything else.

Drawing on ways to automate and capture a stronger, more robust picture of patients, treatments and the systems in which we deliver healthcare gives us a greater opportunity to improve individualised care. From tablet-based apps that help with mental health through to planning and reporting, there are a wealth of ways clinicians and healthcare providers can use data smarter.

Patient advocacy is the way of the future

As the talk rightly says, ask patients! Ask patients if they understand the challenges and information in front of them. Ask patients to participate in meaningful ways in the decision-making process when it comes to treatment. And ask patients what they want from their healthcare experience and undoubtedly, you’ll hear they want to have a say. Our patients want to trust us. Asking the person in front of you what good quality care looks like to them is an essential building block in any arena where patient advocacy is required.

Want to know more about how you can create the conditions for patient advocacy with ExSitu care plans? Contact us now!


error: Content is protected !!