This article is the final installation in a four-part monthly series by Shelley Thomson, which focuses on the nuances that drive patient-centred care, why it matters more than ever, how to better understand these dynamics, and how to measure its effectiveness.
Over the previous articles in this series, we have explored how adopting a patient-centred care approach helps healthcare providers to deliver care personalised to the needs and values of each patient. We have also seen how value-based health care (often referred to as outcomes-based care), represents the overarching operating model of care adopted by healthcare organisations whose purpose is to deliver to the patient’s personal value and outcomes.
In this final edition in the series, we will be exploring how patients of today are pushing the expectations of their healthcare delivery beyond just a patient-centred approach towards a patient partnership approach.
In today’s fast-paced, consumer-led world, and educated by the COVID-19 pandemic to take responsibility for their own health, Australians are stepping up to become a partner in their own health.
Less than a decade ago, many patients would have automatically consulted a medical professional to address a health issue and been a passive recipient of the health services prescribed. Now, armed with health education they have received via mainstream media, their own health data collected by wearable devices, the wealth of research they can undertake online and the proliferation of technology, the patient’s approach is rapidly shifting towards managing their own health and coming to consultations informed and ready to be an integral partner in the value creation process. No doubt you will have experienced this shift first hand in your practice or place of work.
In a true patient partnership model, the patient is considered a full member of the care team and their knowledge and decisions are valued and respected throughout the care journey. All members of the care team – including the patient, their family or carers and healthcare professionals – work together to achieve the agreed health outcomes.
Patients are becoming more connected and influenced by the seamless customer experiences they see in other sectors (like retail) and are demanding more from their healthcare experiences. Already, 50% of the Australian population and 46% of workers are millennials or generation Z. Millennials are set to make up 75% of the total Australian workforce by 2025. This group of digital natives have different perspectives and expectations of this generation on what they want from their healthcare delivery.
We are now at a tipping point, particularly during the pandemic, where consumers have made great strides forward in digital adoption, which has shifted their expectations towards being a full partner in their healthcare journey, and expecting it to be delivered in a way which is convenient and consistent with the services they access in other areas of their lives. If healthcare professionals do not embrace these shifting expectations and move from a provider-driven system to a patient partnership approach, then they risk patients simply seeking out alternative services which do cater to their needs.
All layers of the Australian healthcare system are currently considering newer, more contemporary ways of working and allied health, and more specifically, podiatry, is no different. This degree of change requires vulnerability and humility in leaders to encourage and listen to a broad diversity of views and experiences. Most importantly, it requires leaders to listen to their patients and incorporate the patient’s voice and the outcomes that matter to them, into every aspect of the design, development, and delivery of their services.
Through years of working with clients who are keen to embrace this change and move their practice towards a contemporary, patient-partnership approach, we typically find they may need help in their practice or hospital clinic across three key areas of capability.
1. Patient partnership
Embracing a patient-partnership approach sets an aspiration that drives a cultural and behavioural shift. The key to success is challenging every health professional to embrace each patients’ knowledge and lived experiences. Recognising the patient, family and carers as a key resource accelerates the change, shifting momentum from disengaged to empowered, and supporting staff and patients to drive the transformation. For example, you could consider including patient representatives on teams or committees designed to improve your place of work, to ensure your quality improvement efforts address issues that matter to patients.
2. Care delivery
As we discussed in the last article, adopting a value-based health care operating model provides a strategic focus and aligns transformation to the purpose of improving patient outcomes. When focus shifts to health outcomes rather than volume of activity, it encourages a strong focus on results oriented towards value and outcomes for patients. Measuring patient experiences, outcomes, activation and impact enables us to track performance, improvement, and celebrate our success. A great way to start is by implementing a PREM survey and a condition-specific PROM. Involve patients in their progress by repeating the PROM at regular intervals and sharing the results, so together you can track this over time.
3. Health ecosystems
Whilst acknowledging patients and healthcare professionals have different needs, we recognise we all benefit by shifting from siloed systems to a seamless health ecosystem. For patients, the focus is related to tracking outcomes by connecting their digital devices, wearables, health apps and platforms to help them achieve their goals. For podiatrists and practices, this digital transformation relates to big data and patient analytics, developing innovative tech partnerships and seamless ways of sharing information.
The bottom line; we all win when we have a health ecosystem underpinned by seamless technology experiences and interconnected services.
Typically, the transformation journey to a patient partnership approach happens in identifiable maturity stages. It can be a daunting prospect to take those first steps towards this new approach, but once patient-partnership innovation is deeply embedded in your practice or hospital clinic’s DNA, the shift is profound.
© Copyright 2021 The Australian Podiatry Association