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Patient Empowerment: Education and Counseling Essay

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Updated: Dec 28th, 2020

In the age of technologies, the Internet, social media, and the extensive use of electronic health records, patients are presented with opportunities to take their health under control and become more active in choosing, implementing, and guiding a recovery process. In this paper, the notion of empowered patients will be explored to discover the benefits, opportunities, and challenges associated with patients controlling their treatment.

Research on patient empowerment and the use of the Internet for partnering with healthcare providers has led to discovering the e-Patient Dave website, which is a resource developed by Dave deBronkart for advising patients regarding the empowering effects of technology. Diagnosed in 2007 with a late stage of kidney cancer, e-Patient Dave made a drastic change in his approach to healthcare and went beyond the traditional role of patients in their treatment. By doing so, Dave managed to beat the disease despite the dismal prognosis that doctors had given back in 2007 (Revera, 2017). It is crucial to understand that it was his empowerment that allowed Dave to save himself; therefore, he now gives other people advice on how to not only be consumers of healthcare but also become actively involved.

When discussing patient empowerment, there are a variety of opportunities that patients can use to their overall advantage. First, despite patients not being doctors, they can ask questions about further actions in their treatment, contact healthcare providers, and get all available information about their condition. Second, patients can become true partners with their healthcare providers through the use of technologies. For instance, a messaging application can be used to facilitate closer communication between doctors and their patients. According to Peter Pronovost, MD, Ph.D., senior vice president of patient safety and quality at John Hopkins Hospital, healthcare providers encourage the use of technologies to enhance not only physician communication but also to facilitate patient engagement and empowerment (“App seeks to improve doctor-patient communication,” 2017).

An important message on patient empowerment as an underestimated resource for effective health care can also be found in deBronkart’s (2013) book Let Patients Help, in which the author documented cases of patients who used technologies to empower themselves and participate in the process of care. The author concluded that the Internet was the most powerful and effective way of getting current and relevant information to make autonomous decisions (E-Patient Dave, 2013).

Despite the opportunities associated with patient empowerment, there are challenges that should be addressed to ensure that engagement in the healthcare process does not harm patients. One of such challenges is making sure that a health provider offers patients the necessary information to make them more autonomous and informed individuals (Anderson & Funnell, 2010). This means that empowerment does not take place until patients make informed decisions about their self-management and play an active role in their treatment (Vahdat, Hamzehgardeshi, Hessam, & Hamzehgardeshi, 2014). For many patients, making decisions regarding their treatment is a complicated task that they prefer leaving to their healthcare providers and avoiding any responsibilities.

To conclude, patient empowerment is a tool for patients to take action and use modern technological resources for making informed decisions. Underestimating the role of empowerment can limit the effectiveness of treatment, undermine the value of communication with patients, as well as have an overall negative effect on how patients view their treatment.

References

Anderson, R. M., & Funnell, M. M. (2010). Patient empowerment: Myths and misconceptions. Patient Education and Counseling, 79(3), 277-282.

(2017). Web.

deBronkart, D. (2013). Web.

E-Patient Dave. (2013).Web.

Revera. (2017). “E-patient Dave” deBronkart and the age of empowered patients. Web.

Vahdat, S., Hamzehgardeshi, L., Hessam, S., & Hamzehgardeshi, Z. (2014). Patient involvement in health care decision making: A review. Iranian Red Crescent Medical Journal, 16(1), 124-154.

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IvyPanda. "Patient Empowerment: Education and Counseling." December 28, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/patient-empowerment-education-and-counseling/.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Patient Empowerment: Education and Counseling." December 28, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/patient-empowerment-education-and-counseling/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Patient Empowerment: Education and Counseling'. 28 December.

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