Patient empowerment for more efficient healthcare

 March 31, 2014
By Javier Garcia

Faced with rising populations and increasing life expectancy, various governments throughout Europe are growing concerned about the future of healthcare; both in terms of its quality and the allocation of resources. In order to tackle the problem before it is too late, they are carrying out various pilot studies or operational changes designed to streamline the system without affecting its quality, and even improving it significantly.

One of the resources becoming more common is the use of new technologies and telecommunications in healthcare processes, from prevention to follow up, actual medical intervention to the collection of useful data for the future. The system known as eHealth is spearheading an entire shift, putting greater emphasis than ever before on the patient, making them more involved in their own recovery, thus greatly improving treatment whilst saving both time and money.

The principal advantage of eHealth is the ability to maintain direct contact remotely between the different professionals involved in monitoring patients’ health, such as physicians and pharmacists, but also the patients themselves and their relatives or carers. Nonetheless, beyond this, its benefits include automatically filing incidences on medical histories, disseminating information relevant to the health of patients, and speeding up traditionally slow processes, to name but a few.

Over the last years, caring for one’s health has become more of a priority for people. Although health has always been a concern, in recent times we have generally adopted a more proactive attitude in this area. This has translated into a growing concern for nutrition or physical exercise as preventative measures, but has perhaps fallen short of tackling more specific health issues. Thus, mHealth is a step forward in this regard, empowering the patient to enhance prevention, speed up recovery and improve follow-up.

Patient empowerment is key to the three main scenarios described above and, when done correctly, can further customise treatments by tailoring them to the specific conditions of the patient’s life and improve the safety of proceedings. Moreover, thanks to technological advances, this improvement in services comes at no extra cost. However, it does require a specially adapted system, with technological tools based on communication, so that patients can access the necessary information, understand it correctly, and follow treatments autonomously to the greatest extent possible. Also, by being able to report any incidents appropriately, patient needs and opinions can be identified, allowing them to actively participate in the evolution and improvement of the health care system itself.

eHealth, patient empowerment and technological innovation are opening doors to excellence in the healthcare system, without compromising budgetary stability, nor the quality of service which guarantees people’s wellbeing.