The medical world today is increasingly moving towards a model that emphasises shared decisions, with greater recognition of the active role of patients—respecting their values to minimise uncertainty, improve treatment adherence and achieve better results. Technology is playing a fundamental role in this change, and we are seeing exponential progress—in both technological and biological terms—along the path towards personalised medicine.
Technological progress facilitates participation and collaboration among multiple players in the health care system, including patients and care providers, enabling them to make more informed decisions about diagnosis and treatment. However, when we talk about health care technology, we are not only referring to cutting-edge advances that improve the diagnosis or care for a particular disease. In fact, the most effective technology for improving the patient experience is something we all have at home: a tablet or mobile phone that we can use to communicate more effectively with our doctors. At Eurecat, we combine the potential of these devices with home sensors for a number of purposes, such as, for example, non-invasive remote monitoring of chronically ill patients.
The most effective technology for improving the patient experience is something we all have at home: a tablet or mobile phone that we can use to communicate more effectively with our doctors
Better communication with patients helps health professionals manage their time and increase the quality of face-to-face appointments. Technology improves statistics, but it also improves the quality of health care, leading to a better patient experience.
Around 60% of people turn to the Internet for health-related information, but only 38% trust the results they find. In contrast, 92% of people trust the information they receive from health professionals. Given these figures, the current trend is to make the patient a participant in the decision-making process by way of conversations between doctor and patient that deal directly with values, evidence and context.
The objective, supported by experts in the field, is to implement a process of deliberation that involves both the patient—whether healthy or ill—and the health professional. Both have important roles to play in this conversation: the health professional has clinical knowledge, but the patient is the person who knows herself the best, so she, too, has something to contribute.
The objective is to implement a process of deliberation that involves both the patient and the health professional. Both have important roles to play in this conversation: the health professional has clinical knowledge, but the patient is the person who knows herself the best
The closest and most innovative example of this practice is Decisions Compartides (“Shared Decisions”), a web portal created by the Agency for Health Quality and Assessment of Catalonia (AQuAS), a body that belongs to the Catalan Department of Health. Decisions Compartides recently launched a tech-based tool that allows patients with multiple sclerosis to work with their doctors to determine what treatment modality best matches their needs and preferences. The tool addresses issues such as the frequency and method of administration and side effects.
One example of a technological and methodological advance designed to empower patients through a novel integrated care model is the clinical trial that Eurecat is leading in Catalonia, the Netherlands and Israel as part of the CONNECARE project. In this initiative, patients with complex chronic conditions are provided easy-to-use applications for monitoring, self-management and education, and to help them communicate with health professionals. It also provides smart tools that use case workflow modelling and decision-support systems to help primary care physicians and specialists coordinate the patient care they provide.
Patients are also being empowered to create their own technological solutions. The idea behind these developments is that in order to improve people’s quality of life, it is essential to understand their real needs, concerns and everyday battles.
Together, these innovations are helping to transform the healthcare model in ways that prioritise patients and put them at the centre of the process. The implementation of these good practices in the Catalan health system will also give greater impetus to further research on how to improve the quality of health care.
These innovations are helping to transform the healthcare model in ways that prioritise patients and put them at the centre of the process
It is also essential to promote and support the annual events that provide a meeting place for professionals working to improve health care quality and the companies that are developing solutions for this sector. A key event in this respect is the XPatient Barcelona Congress, organised by Hospital Clínic, Eurecat and the TIC Salut Social Foundation with the support of XPA Barcelona, a community of practice dedicated to improving the patient experience. The aim of this annual event is to promote the notion of patient experience as a way to improve the delivery of health services.
The call for participation in the XPatient Barcelona Congress is open until 4 July. The organisers are looking for proposals on cutting-edge initiatives in the areas of patient and care-provider empowerment, health care co-creation with patients, and the application of technology to improve the patient experience.
Proposals can be submitted via a form on the event website. Successful applicants will deliver their presentations at the conference at CaixaForum Barcelona on 18 September.
Call for participation in the XPatient Barcelona Congress