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When we think of advancing medical science or treatment philosophy, our thoughts immediately turn to the people wearing that classic, white lab coat. After all, they’re the ones with all the medical knowledge. They’ve spent years memorizing every fleeting cell in the body and how various pathogens can ravish them.

We trust their opinions sometimes to the exclusion of our own. However, there is more to sympathetic care than just knowing how to get rid of an illness. Even the best bedside manners won’t let a physician fully understand the troubles of a patient.

The only way to do that is to bring them to the table and hear it firsthand.

What is Patient Engagement?

Patient engagement is the practice of integrating patient input into healthcare decisions and discussions. This can occur on an individual level to improve specific care, or it can be applied to the industry.

Many caretakers already implement this into their daily routines. Simple things like asking about difficulties in daily life or explaining treatment options fall under the broad umbrella of patient engagement.

Patients are affected by a massive list of healthcare processes that they have historically had little to no influence over. Decisions on drug approval or the necessity of specialized tests have an undeniable effect on the quality of a patient’s post-care life.

Researchers might believe that a drug’s side-effect is palatable if it cures the underlying sickness, but the patient has practical experience to suggest otherwise. Tapping into first-hand accounts on coping with illness is paramount to optimizing healthcare, but it isn’t easy for patients to break into these discussions.

Barriers to Entry

Unlike doctors and researchers, patient consultants don’t receive adequate compensation for their contributions to healthcare progress. This is due to a myriad of reasons primarily stemming from the perception that they’re not professionals in the field.

However, this is contrary to how many other industries handle well-informed parties. Retired athletes are paid as commentators and analysts on sports channels despite not being trained for broadcast. TV shows pay outside experts to ensure the real-world accuracy of their scenes. These experts are taking time away from their regular work to provide a service.

Patient consultants are assisting research at the cost of other parts of their life. They must pay a babysitter or sacrifice their vacation days. The monetary or social expense of consulting healthcare without pay means that only the well-off can assist. This leads to the exclusion of society’s more marginalized demographics.

The Necessity of Diverse Opinions

While it’s true that money can’t buy happiness, there are many inconveniences that it can solve. Lower-income populations don’t have this option, so excluding them from patient consulting gives biased responses to researchers. It’s possible that a “rich person’s” drug or treatment is approved that isn’t feasible for people with more demanding lifestyle cultures.

Incentivizing Participation

Patient Orator has partnered with Cambia Grove throughout 2021 to bring a diverse collection of patient voices to the healthcare table. By providing higher payouts to our consultants, we open the doors for them to share their knowledge through inclusive dialogues for improving healthcare in the right direction. This isn’t restricted only to closed-doors discussions.

We brought patients in as experts where their knowledge was used. Event panels, hackathon events, solution judging, and public oration. By sharing their experience in a broad range of venues, we hope to push others to fully respect the wealth of knowledge that patients bring.

Additionally, the Optimizing Incentives Summit, hosted by Cambia Grove, held a discussion over how to better incentivize patient input. It focused on the most effective models tested around the country. The full rundown can be found here.

Published by Bryan Lee

Bryan Lee is a contributing writer with a journalism degree from the University of Texas at Austin. He writes regularly for Patient Orator in matters regarding healthcare advocacy for individuals and other healthcare-related topics.

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