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The Importance of Patient Empowerment Today

Good health is an absence of disease and a sense of physical and mental well-being. 

Being healthy is important because it makes you feel good and allows you to be physically and mentally able and live a longer, quality-filled life. 

Easier said than done given the state of the healthcare system in the United States. 

According to a recent study from The Beryl Institute, “Three-quarters (76%) of Americans surveyed said they have not had a positive patient experience in the past three months and 60% have had an outright negative healthcare experience.” 

Jason Wolf, president and CEO of The Beryl Institute says, “The incredible pressures the healthcare system is currently facing is having a significant impact on the experiences people feel they are having in healthcare. Longer wait times, access issues, short-staffed units causing delayed responsiveness all contribute to people not feeling listened to, communicated to, treated with respect.”

That includes Doctors who have become patients themselves. 

I recently read an article written by Dr. Lawrence Mieczkowski M.D. who almost died because his doctors did not listen to him and made errors in his treatment. After a “routine colonoscopy” with a few polyps removed he was sent home only to ultimately end up with congestive heart failure, stage III kidney failure and chronic anemia which forced him to retire early from his practice. 

He asks “Why do physicians miss a diagnosis or screw up on treatment plans? What’s more, why do too many of them not listen to their patients ― the most basic thing that should be a fundamental part of their practice?” 

He further states, “Unfortunately, my experience is common since adverse events occur in a reported 25% of hospital admissions. We physicians know the healthcare system is broken. Hospital executives are overpaid. Since PCPs are paid on average $180,000 versus the $500,000 an orthopedic surgeon makes, the best and brightest medical students often pursue highly paid specialty positions. Physicians are overbooked, overwhelmed, tired and burned out. Computerized medical records have made it worse. The end result is often poor patient outcomes. Since you can’t change the system, you have to learn how to navigate through its waves.”

There is a growing awareness that patients who are educated about their health and become empowered to make sound healthcare decisions tend to have better outcomes, which can save money, particularly in the management of chronic diseases.

The World Health Organization defines patient empowerment as “a process through which people gain greater control over decisions and actions affecting their health”.  They say this shift is due in large part to the use of technology that facilitates increased patient access to information via the Internet, peer-to-peer sharing, consumer health devices, and mobile apps.

Patient empowerment is a “process that helps people gain control over their own lives and gain greater control over decisions and actions affecting their own health.

Rare disease advocate and parent, Anne Lawlor believes that “an informed educated parent is an empowered one.”  Patients make the best decisions when armed with the right information.  To make genuinely informed decisions about our treatment we must have access to the relevant information needed to make those decisions.

Research shows that access to the right information, at the right time, delivered in the right way, leads to an increase in a patient’s desire and ability to take a more active role in decision-making.  Open and transparent communication and access to a patient’s own medical records is also important.

Research posted on the National Institutes of Health from a study published in the March 28, 2019, from E Cancer Medical Science states, “Empowerment may be seen as an enabling process in which healthcare professionals cooperate with patients to help them acquire knowledge and resources; its outcome is a patient with a greater ability to manage his/her condition and to make informed decisions. Empowerment in patients with chronic diseases, such as cancer, has shown several positive effects, such as increased patient satisfaction with care, improved patient adherence to self-management of the treatment and better clinical outcomes.”

However, sometimes it is scary and confusing. Also, not all doctors want empowered patients and not all patients want to be empowered. Many patients want simple solutions to complex problems and want their doctors to make all the decisions. 

At present due to the shortage of nurses, physicians, and specialists in hospitals and health centers, among other rising challenges in public health care, it’s not that easy. Too many patients are currently finding they are unable to get the optimal quality of medical care they require. 

Thus, becoming an informed and empowered patient is quickly becoming a necessity not a luxury.

At the Tree of Life Wellness Center, we encourage patients to make informed decisions and help to empower them so they can navigate the current healthcare system. Good health should be about quality not just quantity. Ask questions. Advocate for yourself. It’s YOUR body and YOUR health, afterall.

For more information call 508-336-4242 or go to

Jane Jansen Holistic Practitioner

Host Holistic Healthline Radio