The Empowered Patient: Myth or Reality?

Posted on: 09.05.2018

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines empowerment as “a process through which people gain greater control over decisions and actions affecting their health.” The phrase “Patient Empowerment” is most often used to emphasize the value of having patients assert greater control over their health and healthcare, thereby shifting more power to the patient as the focus of care.  This shift is due in large part to the use of technology that facilitates increased patient access to information via the Internet, peer-to-peer sharing, consumer health devices and mobile apps

It is well documented that empowered patients achieve better health outcomes and have a greater quality of life. There is also evidence that patient empowerment reduces healthcare costs.

A mythical empowered patient 

However, despite the proliferation of new technology, the fact is that too many patients are still struggling to get the support they need to become equal partners in their care. For them, the concept of the empowered patient is more mythical than real. This disconnect between the rhetoric of the empowered patient and the reality needs to be urgently addressed. Failure to do so perpetuates a two-tier health system – one in which optimum health care becomes the privilege of only those patients who are tech-savvy.

Facing patients and caregivers challenges 

At the Patients 2.0 session that will take place at the HIMSS Europe & Health 2.0 Conference (Sunday 27, 02:00pm) a group of patient advocates and technology experts will discuss the challenges that patients and caregivers face during their disease journey. These are some of the questions that will be included in the discussion:

  • Which are some of the fundamental skills of an empowered patient?
  • Is digital literacy strictly necessary or empowerment goes beyond access to technology?
  • Does empowerment mean shifting too much of the responsibility on to the patient?
  • What if patients do not want to be empowered?

This forum is a great opportunity for all healthcare stakeholders to try to solve the obstacles that stop patients from being empowered. If you have more questions or you want to have your say, please join us for this session that will take place in Sitges on May 27.

Registration in English

Registration in Spanish

Marie Ennis-O'Connor


Health Care Social Media Monitor