The power of becoming an empowered patient

Empowered patient picture

Patient Empowerment: Tips and Tools to Take Control of Your Health

  • The road to patient empowerment begins by seeking out reliable information about your health and using this information to become an active participant in your own care
  • As patients become more knowledgeable, they gain a sense of confidence that helps them navigate complicated healthcare systems and learn how to engage with providers to get the care they need 
  • Empowered patients are not content to simply follow instructions issued by their healthcare provider: They prepare for appointments ahead of time, ask relevant questions about their issues and ensure they understand the purpose and importance of everything they are told
  • Empowered patients are interested in seeing and understanding the results from any procedures they have performed as soon as possible. They seek out platforms, such as PocketHealth, that make it easy to view, understand and share these results in order to make informed decisions about their care


1: What is Patient Empowerment and Why is it Important?

Patient empowerment, according to the World Health Organization, is “a process through which people gain greater control over the decisions and actions affecting their health.” 

Historically, healthcare has been a one-way street. Doctors tell patients what to do and patients, hopefully, follow those directions. Patient empowerment represents a move away from this mentality and toward patient-centric care. 

By putting patients at the centre of their own healthcare journeys, they become more involved and invested in the decisions that affect their health. According to the Patient Empowerment Network, having access to the right information, at the right time and presented in the right way increases a patient’s desire to take on a greater role in their own care. 


2: The Benefits of Patient Empowerment: Improving Health Outcomes and Quality of Life

Research has shown that providing patients with access to their own healthcare data produces positive results, including better medical outcomes and lower costs of treatment. A study conducted by OpenNotes found that 60 percent of patients who were given immediate access to their doctors’ notes became more likely to take their medications regularly. Of the almost 14,000 participants in the study, 77 per cent said this increased access made them feel more in control of their care. 

Other findings from the study suggest that sharing this healthcare data improves communication and fosters stronger doctor-patient relationships — key components of patient empowerment. Almost every participant in the study was eager for the practice to continue.

PocketHealth, a platform that makes it easy to access and share imaging results from a computer or mobile device, has seen ample evidence the power of patient empowerment first-hand. In addition to serving up vital health information, the platform offers Report Reader which explains complex medical terms and makes it easier for patients to understand the findings and recommendations included in their medical imaging reports. 

We also receive messages every week from patients whose lives have been changed by access to this information. 

The following is feedback from patients who used PocketHealth to become more empowered:

“For a medically complex child, having access to all imaging in one place has been life changing. It has made such a difference to have access to all of my 2-year-old son’s imaging at all times.” — Patient delegate, Sick Kids

“Having my records on PocketHealth makes it easier to share my medical history with new doctors and keeps me in control of my own health. While reading through my documents on PocketHealth, I once noticed something that my doctor missed entirely when I went in to go over my results.” — Patient, St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton

“It is so nice to get test results quickly. Sometimes, waiting for the results is worse than the disease and a lot of family practitioners aren’t the quickest in following up with their patients.” — Patient, Peterborough Regional Health Centre

“After waiting 10 days with no results from our healthcare providers, I had the images I needed in half an hour from PocketHealth.” — Patient, Niagara Health

“Absolutely fabulous to have access to my records. PocketHealth gives me a chance to study my results and ask semi-intelligent questions of my medical professionals!!!” — Patient, Perth and Smiths Falls District Hospital


3: Strategies for Patient Empowerment: Tips and Tools for Taking Charge of Your Care

An empowered patient, according to Forbes Magazine, is prepared one. They routinely do some or all of the following: 

  • They arrive at a doctor’s appointment with a list of symptoms they may be experiencing, medications they are taking and important questions they want to ask. They aren’t afraid to speak up if they need something repeated or explained in another way
  • If a doctor orders a particular procedure, an empowered patient will ask why it is necessary, what it may reveal and what the doctor hopes to learn. If a new medication is prescribed, they will ask why (and for how long) it is necessary, what the risks and benefits may be and if any alternatives exist. They are more likely to follow any new treatment plan because they are actively involved in this process 
  • An empowered patient has researched their conditions and is eager to receive the results of any procedure they have had performed. They may even be using PocketHealth to instantly view their imaging results and have clicked on the platform’s Report Reader to make sense of any complex terminology they do not understand
  • Before they leave their doctor’s office, an empowered patient has had all of their questions answered and knows what the next steps are and why the doctor believes them to be necessary. They are confident they have done everything in their power to ensure they are receiving the best possible care

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