Building Confidence in Patients Probably Takes More Than Posing


Editor’s Note: This blog post is part of our 5 Points of Health Care™ series, a Cambia Grove original framework designed to better understand the health care system by breaking the system into five distinct sectors: Patient, Payer, Policymaker, Provider and Purchaser. This blog post is authored by Robin Shapiro, founding member and Chair of the Washington State Health Advocates Association (WASHAA) Board of Directors.

When facing challenging health circumstances for you or a family member, you likely feel the opposite of Wonder Woman. While Power Posing may be one way to get your brain and body to feel more in control, what does it really take for ordinary people to navigate health care effectively? CONFIDENCE. It turns out that confidence is correlated with better health outcomes and lower health care costs.[1] [2]  

Can health innovators create solutions that increase confidence?

It is not a matter of making health care simpler. Health care innovators must keep in mind some universal principles regarding what it will take:
  • Each Patient is Unique: When you have met one patient, you have met and (maybe) understand one patient. Each person is unique and solutions need to take into account that two patients with the same diagnosis, symptoms, etc. may have a different set of values, life experiences and choices.
  • Patient Stories Teach: As human beings we learn in a variety of ways, but stories are the most compelling way that we remember and learn new information. 
  • Transparency is Good, but Context is Key: The new CMS policy on price transparency requires hospitals to post prices of services and products sold to patients in a downloadable format on hospital websites. Although helpful, it will not give patients everything they need to be comfortable making a health care decision. More work is needed so that information on price and quality can ably contribute to patient understanding of medical decision-making.

Although no part of health care is simple, we need to help patients by making them aware of information and issues relevant to their situation, teaching skills and providing them with simple next steps to connect to people, tools, and other support that will help them navigate.

There are many solutions needed to help patients become partners in their care. The Washington State Health Advocacy Association (WASHAA) is focused on building a community of empowered people, confident in navigating health care. If you want to discuss what we have learned and how we might partner, please visit me during Office Hours at Cambia Grove February 7, 2019 11:00 am – 1:00 pm and register here for the 5 Points of Health Care Patient Panel event.