Healthcare providers-in Asia and the rest of the world-are yet to come to terms with the paradigm shift that is taking place in the provision of healthcare. A re-look at planning, delivery and evaluation of care is the order of the day. The healthcare processes need to be aligned to ensure that the patient is treated as a consumer.
Though this may seem like a minor change in perspective, the implications for healthcare providers are anything but small. The patient will move beyond being a mere recipient of service, and become a source of crucial feedback to the providers of healthcare. Indeed, if a process is to revolve around the patient, it's only fair that hospitals seek their active participation in defining it.
An involved patient is a blessing for healthcare organisations, provided they are able to facilitate comprehensive communication between the staff, physicians and the patient. To enable this, providers would need to put in place an appropriate channel of communication. Unless healthcare establishments take it upon themselves to introduce a patient-centred approach organisation-wide, a change of this proportion can never be positive in the long run.
In the cover story, we present insights from industry experts on how the patient can be an active participant in creating processes that are meant to serve them best. It features three interviews and two articles. In the interviews, industry leaders who have been at the forefront of this change, share their opinions on the various aspects of providing patient-centred care.
The first article, 'Listen to the Patient' talks about improving the doctor-patient communication at every stage of healthcare provision. The feedback can prove to be crucial in improving the quality of life for the patient.
The next article, 'Patient-centric modalities', talks about the factors-tangible and intangible-that need to be considered during the design and implementation of patient-centric processes in healthcare. The article lays emphasis on making hospital stay as short as possible while providing the patient the best quality care.
The two key facilitators of this trend are Internet and Information Technology. The Internet has proved to be a blessing for patients seeking information about diseases and cure. Today, patients are better informed in their interface with providers. With the right systems in place, hospitals can leverage this knowledge to their advantage.
Developments in healthcare information technology have helped create data management systems that enable storage, analysis and retrieval of even the smallest bits of data. With so much information on call, the onus will be on hospitals to provide focussed care. How a hospital uses this opportunity could also affect its competitiveness. The one entity that stands to gain most from this movement, though, is the patient.