This is the view of Gunta Anca, Chair of the Latvian Umbrella Body for Disability Organisation (Sustento) and the Vice Chair of the European Disability Rights Forum in a recent interview. Ms Anca is one of the speakers on the theme of patient-centred healthcare at the forthcoming Riga Health Conference 2015 on 29 and 30 June.
In the interview she stated that the availability of information on the internet has hugely contributed to the empowerment of patients, increasing their health literacy. She went on to say that better health literacy in patients changes the relationship between them and the healthcare professionals, enabling patients to engage in active dialogue about their condition and treatment rather than being a passive listener.
Patient empowerment is only half of the story, though, as there are still very persistent negative attitudes among the healthcare professionals to engaging the patient in the decision making. Health professionals need training in communicating with patients, and a commitment to patient involvement should be an integral part of the way health systems are run.
“There is a need to change the culture, the training and the attitudes; you can’t do this piecemeal,” says Ms Anca. “This gets to the heart of what we mean by patient-centred approach. It’s not up to the doctor to dictate what the treatment is; patients must be given a degree of autonomy in decision-making.”