As healthcare systems evolve, patient-centric care models have become increasingly important. Patient advocacy and engagement empower individuals to take an active role in their healthcare decisions, ensuring that their voices are heard, their needs are met, and their rights are protected. Patients themselves serve as critical constituents to their healthcare team, as they know their mind and body best. In this team-based, patient-centered approach, healthcare providers serve as trusted advisors during this decision journey – helping patients navigate the complex medical systems, outlining patient treatment options, and setting up health goals to tackle any underlying health issues. Research shows that when patients are engaged in their health decision-making, they report higher levels of satisfaction with their care; have increased knowledge about conditions, tests, and treatment; have more realistic expectations about benefits/harms; and are more likely to adhere to screening, diagnostic, or treatment plans.
Patient engagement refers to collaboration between patients and healthcare providers, with involvement of patients in their own education, action, and decision-making. One central underpinning of engaging patients is patient education. This means providing concise, relatable, and evidence-based health information that patients can access, process, and understand. By expanding health literacy, patients will be able to feel more confident in their decision making processes, and better advocate for themselves in and out of the exam room. This method of active engagement shifts us from the more paternalistic models of care, in which patients are simply told by their clinician what to do, to models where patients are in constant collaboration with their clinicians and feel involved in their healthcare management.
As the Patient Engagement Associate at Rocket Health Care, I create patient education materials, documents ranging from defining blood pressure readings, to guides breaking down the steps of a breast self-examination, which are shared via our social media platforms, as well as directly handed to our patient base. My goal is to provide comprehensible and accessible information that inspires patients to be more curious and invested in their health. By actively participating in their care, patients become partners in the decision-making process, leading to improved health outcomes and overall well-being. Emphasizing the importance of patient advocacy and engagement is crucial for achieving a healthcare system that truly prioritizes the well-being of not only the individual, but the community as a whole too.