One of the greatest challenges facing the Italian Healthcare System is more adherence to the patient engagement model, a new form of healthcare that requires the patient to take on a much more active role in his or her own course of treatment, contrary to the passive role of patients today. For some time now, some facilities, like Domedica, have offered in which the participation of the patient is greatly encouraged through education, listening to the patient’s needs and constant dialogue. This new model is based on the now universal conclusion that patients who are not actively involved or aware or made responsible for their own course treatment are at a greater risk for relapse or deterioration of health.
A revolution called patient engagement
On one hand, there is an ethical need for patients to improve their own quality of life and their psychological state during treatment. On the other hand, there is a practical need for the Italian Health System to want the same. As already mentioned, a more aware and involved patient is less subject to further deterioration of health or relapses and, thus, has less influence on the state budget. There is also less burden on the patient’s own finances. Healthcare expenses double when patients are not the protagonists of their own course of treatment. This is just one fact that emerged from the First Consensus Conference for patient engagement in clinical-healthcare sectors for chronic diseases, promoted by the – Consumer & Health Research Center (in collaboration with . This approach is even more important when dealing with chronic diseases. At present, more than half of chronic patients in Italy claim that they do not feel adequately supported or legitimized to play an active role in their own social-healthcare course, which shows just how much work must be done. A real organizational and cultural revolution must be put into place, yet currently there are no clear guidelines laid out for each region of the country or in individual healthcare sectors.
Strategies for patient engagement
Until the Italian Healthcare System sets clear directives on how to promote a more active role in patients, there are some strategies that can be used:
- Remember that important aspects of treatment are included in the vast concept of engagement: patient empowerment, health literacy (how informed that patient is on therapy), adherence to therapyand sharing choices with the treating physician.
- Have a broad and systematic vision and a multi-disciplinary approach to personalized care.
- Understand that engagement is a complex and subjective process that is often achieved step-by-step.
- Make the patient aware and train healthcare professionals about patient engagement, starting in the universities.
- Actively involve volunteers and caregivers in the process of engagement.
- Involve associations of people with chronic diseases.
- Remember that new technologies can facilitate patient engagement, but cannot replace therapeutic-health care relationships.
These strategies show that patients cannot do everything on their own. All healthcare personnel must be involved. This challenge must begin by training the new generation, yet at the same time, the mindset of working professionals must also be radically changed.
- Modello di Engagement: Graffigna, G., & Barello, S. (2018). Engagement: un nuovo modello di partecipazione in sanità. PENSIERO SCIENTIFICO EDITORE.
- Conferenza di Consenso e raccomandazioni per l’Engagement: Graffigna, G., Barello, S., Riva, G., Castelnuovo, G., Corbo, M., Coppola, L., … & Bosio, A. C. (2017). Promozione del patient engagement in ambito clinico-assistenziale per le malattie croniche: raccomandazioni dalla prima conferenza di consenso italiana. Recenti Progressi in Medicina, 108(11), 455-475.
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