The increase in availability of information, developments in new technology, and changes in public attitudes mean that one can interact differently with health services. The aspiration to involve people and give them more control over their health and care has a long history of initiatives and campaigns from policy-makers, professionals and patients and carers. mHealth has made is easier to let a person and a patient be more engaged and take control with their own health. There are several reasons why it would be beneficial to engage ourselves with our own health data:
- Allows control on your own health to maintain a healthy lifestyle
People make choices and decisions every day about how to manage their lives and their health conditions. Supported self-management means giving people with long term conditions the support they need to increase the control they have over their own lives and to minimize the constraints imposed on them by their state of health or disability. In addition, it requires seeing patients not as passive recipients of care but as active partners in the healthcare value chain.
Also, having control over your own health allows responsibility to do something as part of your own self, such as taking your prescribed medicines. It also creates responsibility in your wider life to behave in certain ways for your own health, often in the long term, such as not smoking, or eating healthily.
- Able to manage chronic diseases and health conditions
With the understanding that patients need to be involved in the management of their health, patient engagement and patient activation have been recognized as crucial components of prevention and chronic disease self-management programs. To heal optimally, you must take on tasks associated with managing pain, symptoms, feeding and rehabilitation formerly performed by professionals.
Mostly popular tools are paving the way for better chronic care management i.e. increased patient engagement leads to reduced health care costs, better patient outcomes, and higher quality of care, particularly for those with chronic disease. These are done with real time communication with physicians via a smart phone or wireless device application and wearable technology. For example, diabetes patients, for instance, can have their insulin pen with Bluetooth Enable Technology that keeps track of every time it is used. This way the patient can sit down with the provider or look at the data himself and figure out trends.
- Shared decision making
Shared decision-making is a process in which clinicians and patients work together to make decisions about care and treatment based on both clinical evidence and the patient’s informed preferences. A central part of shared decision-making is the recognition that patients and clinicians bring different, but equally important, knowledge and expertise to the process.
- Encourage public health improvement
In terms of public health and health improvement, role of patients as independent agents of their own health, arguing that only by people becoming ‘fully engaged’ in their own health and health care can we hope to limit the escalating costs of health and social care provision associated with the growing burden of disease.
For health care to deliver on its promise of improved health and better quality of life, a renewed commitment by all stakeholders is required to ensure that each person has the opportunity to participate knowledgeably and effectively in their care to the extent they are able. Better information about who does and does not perform each of these behaviors will allow stakeholders to make strategic decisions about the kind of information, guidance and support that are needed by their patients, members or constituents to participate effectively in their care.