The need for patients’ perspective to face chronic diseases

Our Board Member Philip Chircop attended the 3rd Pan- European Conference on Haemoglobinopathies and Rare Anaemias on 26 October in Chyprus. Participants discussed avenues of action to tackle the growing public health burden of chronic and rare diseases in the European region of the W.H.O. Mr. Chircop brought the patients’ perspective to the fore.

Healthcare systems have been traditionally set up to deal with acute care and episodic illnesses. However to face demographic challenges, the increase of patients with chronic illnesses and demands for higher quality and safety, healthcare systems need a fundamental change and be better geared toward meeting the needs of patients with chronic illnesses.

“At EPF we are convinced that the solution to meet these challenges while providing patients with the high quality, integrated care they need is to put in place genuinely patient centred care”, said our Board member.

Patients are not only users of healthcare services, they have valuable experience in navigating the health system, and they have a key role to play in identifying issues in healthcare systems and solutions. It is absolutely critical to embed their perspectives, their expertise, and their unique experience as patients in healthcare decision making and in the innovation process. The benefits of integrated, patient-centred care are seen in terms of reducing avoidable hospitalisations, more effectively allocated healthcare resources, better quality care throughout the “patient journey,” and better informed, motivated and empowered patients.

Patient involvement alone is not enough to achieve patient centred healthcare. Empowerment strategies which include high quality information and health literacy need to be put in place. High quality and accessible information is also a key pillar of patient safety and a key tool to enable meaningful patient involvement in the management of their health.

Philip Chircop concluded: “Meaningful patient involvement and empowerment will become even more crucial and necessary with innovative form of care. Cooperation between patient organisations and other stakeholder can help ensures that services are developed with the needs of the patients at the centre, and the input of the patients. This will in turn ensure that healthcare services are more effective in meeting users’ need.”