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Patient involvement “crucial for controlling healthcare costs”

26 March 2009

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Healthcare professionals believe patients will play a key role in making healthcare systems sustainable, according to a new research report, Fixing Healthcare, written by the Economist Intelligence Unit.

More than 80% of healthcare professionals polled say that patient-centred care will be important or even critical in containing the cost of healthcare and improving standards of care in the future.

However, they worry that a lack of political will to change healthcare systems may stand in the way of implementing patient-centred care in their own countries.

The report, commissioned by Philips, investigates the views of a range of professionals on how pressures affecting healthcare systems can be relieved. The research is based on a survey of more than 700 healthcare professionals, from frontline medical staff to life science industry executives, in four key economies — the US, UK, Germany and India.

The research finds that while healthcare professionals in most regions feel that standards of care in their country have declined over the last two years, they clearly support patient-driven efforts to improve them. The report also identifies signs of a changing emphasis in some healthcare policies, from sickness to prevention, which could permanently alter the ways in which healthcare will work in the future.

“It has become increasingly apparent that, as patients become more educated and proactive, they are more likely to frame the healthcare agenda,” said Iain Scott, the report’s editor at the Economist Intelligence Unit.

“Clearly that creates additional pressures on healthcare systems, but ultimately if patients can be empowered to manage their own health more effectively, they can also be part of the solution.”

Indeed, the report also revealed that healthcare professionals believe proactive patients are stretching the health system. The survey respondents say patients expect higher standards of care than in the past, more information about their treatment, more involvement in relevant decisions about their care, and access to the latest treatments.

Economist Intelligence Unit