Patient Empowerment for Patient Engagement
Proactive Health Outlet a patient empowerment health-related
website to equip healthcare consumers to be more involved in their health care and to assume greater
responsibility for their overall health management.
Patient-empowerment, which is the improvement in one's ability to understand and help manage his or her health
and health care is now center stage in today's era of healthcare reform with this emphasis on
quality improvement in healthcare, lowering healthcare cost and improving population health. Additionally, patient
empowerment can be instrumental in disease prevention and increased
Patient engagement is the behavioral byproduct of patient empowerment, and encompasses a number of actions on the
part of the patient including decision-making regarding treatment and evaluation, choosing health insurance,
selecting a healthcare provider and instituting lifestyle changes.
Efforts by physicians to engage patients in their care are invaluable but time constraints resulting from the
physician shortage and increased bureaucratic demands oftentimes limit what can be achieved.
Therefore, patient-initiated efforts to become more involved in their healthcare and health management are
taking on a greater importance.
Health literacy is part and parcel of patient empowerment. It is the ability of patients to
understand and utilize health information to make good decisions having to do with their health
and health care. Health literacy varies depending on age, socioeconomic status, ethnicity and other factors,
but a study conducted by the US Department of Education in 2006 showed that only 36% of adults had basic or below
basic skills for utilizing health information written at a fifth grade level. The study also showed that only 12%
had levels of literacy felt to be proficient, defined by their ability to search a complex document and find the
information necessary to define a medical term.
Because of the problem of limited health literacy in our society, this website provides a number of health-related
professionally written articles for the lay reader to gain a greater
understanding of various health topics, preventive health measures and how active participation in one's healthcare
and health management can be beneficial. The articles are written in a language that a non-medical person can
understand. Common medical terms which might not be familiar to the reader are defined within the
body of the articles or in the website patient
In addition to health articles, this site provides access to products, services and websites
germane to empowering patients to become more involved in their healthcare. Since more than 35 million visits to
doctors' offices are for hypertension, resources for blood pressure monitoring are a point of focus.
Since health insurance is a major current issue and usually a requirement for a doctor-patient relationship and
subsequent patient engagement, articles pertaining to health insurance and resources for finding health insurance are provided. Because of the
association between smoking, obesity, disease and death, some of the resources for patient empowerment relate to
these topics. Test kits and online laboratory services can
help patients with gaps in their insurance coverage and lengthy intervals between doctor
visits. Additionally, test kits and online laboratory
services are cost-effective means of enabling patients to monitor
conditions or screen for diseases if those services are not covered by health insurance.
A personal health record is
probably one of the most powerful patient-engagement resources for achieving quality improvement in
healthcare and reducing healthcare costs but to date its value has not been fully
appreciated by patients or physicians.
Resources for patient empowerment and patient engagement are certainly not limited
to those available through this site at this time. Additional resources will be added as the healthcare field
continues to change in this era of healthcare reform. A newsletter or membership website with more specific
information might be forthcoming in the not-too-distant future.