Chair, Heart and Stroke Voice Ireland (HSVI)
When it comes to healthcare, the patient should be the central focus of attention. However, in reality, that is not always the case.
Multiple factors contribute to the lack of patient centricity. Among them is the role attributed to the patient in the healthcare ecosystem. Broadly speaking, the healthcare ecosystem is comprised of the key stakeholders, including the policy and decision-makers, payors, system managers and administrators, healthcare professionals — and the patient. Ironically, the weakest link in this lineup is the patient. Every other stakeholder is there by choice, but the patient assumes their role by default when they become ill.
Traditional approach to patient care
Historically, the interaction between key stakeholders and the patient, especially when it came to the actual delivery of care, has been largely autocratic. Notwithstanding individuals who fail to take any responsibility for their own healthcare (for a variety of reasons), typically, patients have been passive recipients of care. They accede to the superior knowledge of the doctor and just accept what they have been told or what has been prescribed.
The rapid advancement of digital technologies
is transforming the way patients interact — and
will interact — with their healthcare providers.
Evolving patient demands and knowledge
This is changing, however, and there is a new dynamic emerging. Patients and their carers have ever-increased access to information. The rapid advancement of digital technologies is transforming the way patients interact — and will interact — with their healthcare providers. Increased awareness of rights, stronger expression of preferences and greater demands for choice are fuelling something of a consumer approach to healthcare, which will continue to change the role of the patient.
Increasing patient engagement and support
Exemplars of the more informed and activated patient are seen in the rare disease or cancer communities, for example. Through their networked patient communities, the voice of the patient is being heard on matters ranging from equity of access to highlighting unmet patient needs.
Concepts like ‘patient-centred care’ and ‘patient centricity’ are increasingly called out in health strategies and policies. Despite scepticism in the patient community that this is merely ‘tick boxing,’ there is evidence that ‘patient engagement’ across many areas of healthcare is an emerging reality.
In sharp contrast to most other disease areas, despite the scale and burden of cardiovascular disease, the voice of those living with heart disease in Ireland has largely remained disconnected and unorganised. However, to reverse this, the recent launch of Heart and Stroke Voice Ireland (HSVI) aims to create change in cardiovascular disease patients.