The COVID-19 pandemic has changed many aspects of people’s lives, including health care. Many physicians and practices were forced to transition from traditional, in-person doctor’s visits to telehealth appointments. Only under more extreme or necessary circumstances were patients allowed in-person visits, and often times they were forced to go to those visits alone and without any support from a loved one.
With less access to doctors via in-person visits, patients have needed to learn how to become the best advocates for their own health. To do this, patients need to consider the different avenues to lean on so they can receive the best care possible.
Why Become Your Own Health Advocate?
We recently surveyed 1,000 U.S. consumers about how their healthcare experience has changed since the start of the pandemic and what tools they use to better their health. Here is what we discovered:
Patients feel they must advocate for themselves
Of the consumers surveyed, 85% feel positive about their healthcare experience but 81% still feel that they must advocate for themselves in order to receive the best care. This means taking control of your healthcare experience by speaking up to your healthcare team and asking questions, stating needs, and expressing concerns and preferences.
They don’t feel providers understand their needs
The survey showed that 1 in 4 patients (26%) don’t feel that their doctors and healthcare providers truly understand their needs. As a result, patients feel less confident in their provider’s diagnosis and treatment protocols and are more likely to rely on outside information. About 42% of patients said they look for healthcare information outside of their doctors.
Patients wish they had better management tools
Of patients surveyed who use medication on a regular basis to help manage their condition, 46% of them wished they had better medication management tools. Even for those who don’t use medication, 53% said they wish they had better digital health tools to manage their condition. Studies have found that patients who use digital tools to help manage their medications and conditions have better adherence and health outcomes.
Patients want more ways to connect with others
Just over 20% of patients wished they had more opportunities to interact with community groups, whether online or in-person. When patients are part of a community of others who have a similar health condition as they do, they are able to connect on a deeper level to get support, ask questions, and find the comfort they need to improve their health outcomes.
How Does Digitization Help Patient Advocacy?
Digitization in healthcare helps patients become their own health advocates by giving them their data, that they need to make the best decisions possible for themselves. With the growth in health data from sources like electronic medical records and imaging databases, it makes it easy for patients to access their health information.
Research shows that digital health technology in chronic conditions like heart disease, can help support patients in healthy behaviors, improve medication compliance, and improve communication with their providers. By bridging the gap between patients and doctors using digital health technology, providers can deliver the care patients deserve and ensure they feel heard, respected, and understood.