Join thousands of product people at Insight Out Conf on April 11. Register free.

Try for free
GuidesPatient experienceWhat is patient empowerment?

What is patient empowerment?

Last updated

16 August 2023

Author

Dovetail Editorial Team

As a patient, you need to be very trusting when undergoing any type of medical procedure. You might be putting your life in a doctor’s hands. So, you need to be willing to accept that this person is qualified to do the job, has the experience to handle anything unexpected, and has a better-than-average chance of producing a positive outcome.

When patients are empowered to become more engaged in their care, their experience greatly improves. Better outcomes, reduced costs, and higher patient–provider satisfaction are also reported.

What is patient empowerment?

Patient empowerment refers to patients becoming co-managers in their care processes.

Through a provider–patient relationship based on mutual respect and trust, the patient is given greater control over decisions and actions affecting their health.

Through educational resources like those found on the internet and information about treatment and financing, patients are encouraged to understand prognoses, optimal treatment options, and treatment costs. Empowered patients take part in their healthcare by educating themselves, knowing what questions to ask, and participating in the decision-making process.

Many believe patient empowerment is key to creating a high-performing and cost-efficient healthcare system.

What does patient empowerment involve?

For patients to gain greater control over their health and healthcare, patient empowerment must include the following:

Knowledge

An empowered patient requires the knowledge and information necessary to make informed health decisions. This includes understanding their health condition, learning about available treatment options, and realizing the benefits and risks of each option.

Attitudes

The patient’s attitude should support empowerment. Having a sense of self-efficacy is helpful, alongside a belief in the ability to make decisions about health and a willingness to take an active role in personal healthcare.

Skills

Patients will have difficulty feeling empowered if they lack the major skills to care for themselves.

They should be able to self-monitor, self-manage, and communicate to manage their condition and participate in their healthcare.

Ideally, they will want to seek information independently, follow their doctor’s instructions, manage their medication correctly, monitor symptoms, and be willing to make positive lifestyle changes.

Environment

A supportive environment is needed to encourage patient empowerment—one that respects the patient’s rights, honors their values and preferences, and encourages patient participation.

What are the benefits of patient empowerment?

When patients are empowered to take part in their care, they are encouraged to think critically about their health and make informed decisions.

With empowerment, patients gain:

  • Knowledge about their health conditions and options for treatment and management

  • Access to the resources needed to manage care, from being able to afford medications to finding high-quality educational materials about healthcare plans

  • Involvement in decision-making and health management 

  • The ability to align healthcare decisions with their own values and goals

Patient empowerment helps build the foundation for active healthcare participation.

The main benefits of patient empowerment include:

Empowered patients are more likely to speak up about their health conditions, symptoms, and treatment at a facility, whether their experience is good or bad.

Does patient empowerment help promote adherence?

Enabling patients to become more involved in their healthcare can ultimately lead to greater engagement and involvement with providers. Fostering empowerment can also increase patients’ adherence to their care pathway and a particular healthcare provider.

Patient empowerment and the advanced stages of life-limiting illness

Little is known about the application or impact of empowerment strategies for patients with advanced, life-limiting illnesses. However, there is increasing evidence that patient empowerment is still effective and beneficial.

While the patient may no longer be able to make lifestyle changes at this point, they are still capable of taking an interest in their health and researching new treatment options that may be available to them.

By taking an active role in their health, even at the end of their life, the patient is more able to maintain a good relationship with providers and caregivers and keep a positive attitude.

Does patient empowerment have any challenges?

An empowered patient will better understand how to navigate between the many players in the healthcare system. This network includes physicians, health insurers, pharmacists, healthcare regulators, and family members.

The patient will feel confident to ask for the information needed when unsure about what to do next. They can access medical information via the internet, healthcare providers, other patients, support groups, and other experts.

While this wealth of information can be very powerful, it can also become confusing. A barrier to empowerment may occur if the patient doesn’t know what to do with the information or is unable or unwilling to act in a self-responsible way.

There’s also the risk that the patient decides they don’t need routine medical care and will only go to the doctor when absolutely necessary. This can have a negative effect on their overall health.

Five ways to empower patients

Patient empowerment is a two-way street requiring the patient and healthcare provider to work together. Providers should strive to empower their patients because it helps them feel confident enough to participate in consultations and self-management.

Here are five ways to empower patients:

1. Offer patients treatment options

Patients should know what treatment options they have and what the consequences of each option may be. Giving patients a choice helps them feel supported, in control, and valuable to the healthcare team.

2. Direct patients to financial resources

Financial options should be openly discussed with patients. While it may not be possible to help them navigate the healthcare marketplace for health insurance before an office visit, resources that can help them compare medication costs between prescription drug retailers are beneficial.

Giving patients these resources helps them align their healthcare needs with their financial concerns in the most sensible way.

3. Refer patients to educational resources

Information helps patients engage more effectively in their healthcare. Patients should be guided to internet sources that explain conditions in easy-to-understand terms. When patients know how to research their own health issues, they can discuss their conditions with providers and ask important questions more easily.

4. Inform patients about digital tools

Many smartphone apps are available to help track and manage chronic conditions. By putting critical information in the patient’s hands, these apps make it possible to set and monitor goals, making incentives and consequences more tangible. This puts patients on better footing for interactions with healthcare professionals, with data to back up any questions and concerns.

5. Encourage the use of patient portals

Electronic portals give patients access to their health records and important information. For example, they can see reminders of upcoming appointments and any tests they need to schedule.

Patients may also share their data with other providers for a health background and to prevent unnecessary repeat scans, tests, and blood work. This helps streamline data aggregation by allowing the patient to combine electronic health record information from multiple sources.

Get started today

Go from raw data to valuable insights with a flexible research platform

Try for freeContact sales

Editor’s picks

What does ‘access to healthcare’ mean?

Last updated: 27 June 2023

What is healthcare management?

Last updated: 18 July 2023

What is patient-centered care?

Last updated: 19 July 2023

What are the 18 HIPAA identifiers?

Last updated: 16 November 2023

PHI vs. PII: What’s the difference?

Last updated: 28 September 2023

Related topics

Product developmentPatient experienceResearch methodsEmployee experienceSurveysMarket researchCustomer researchUser experience (UX)

Your customer insights hub

Turn data into actionable insights. Bring your customer into every decision.

Try for free

Product

InsightsAnalysisAutomationIntegrationsEnterprisePricingLog in

Company

About us
Careers9
Legal

© Dovetail Research Pty. Ltd.
TermsPrivacy Policy

Log in or sign up

Get started with a free trial


or


By clicking “Continue with Google / Email” you agree to our User Terms of Service and Privacy Policy