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Friday, September 23, 2011

Patients want to be part of the solution

Archie Allison is a retired health care manager who lives in South Surrey/White Rock, BC. He and his wife Sheila are active volunteers with the Patient Voices Network, a province-wide initiative led by ImpactBC in collaboration with Patients as Partners, Ministry of Health in British Columbia.

I am pleased and inspired to see that you have included a section on patient-provider relationships in this document. As a Patient Partner for the Patient Voices Network (PVN) I have had, in the course of just one year, numerous opportunities to “have a voice” at the individual level, the community level and the system level.  In the process I have shared my experiences as a patient in a collaborative and welcoming atmosphere where providers and patients have grown and learned together. 
One of the most satisfying opportunities was being a volunteer facilitator for a PVN pilot program called “Talking with Your Doctor”. It’s an interactive workshop that provides a framework for the responsibilities listed in the “What can patients do?” section of the document. These workshops are consistently received by patients with open arms. They are eager to learn self-management skills and empower themselves when it comes to their own care.

Under “What can physicians do?” I see you are reporting that 75% of physicians state that increasing patient expectations are placing more demands on their time.  What physicians are seeing as increasing patient expectations may actually be communication issues.  When there is clear communication by both physicians and patients the relationship is not only more satisfying, it is very likely less time consuming. 
My own experience with my doctor has impacted my belief in this process.  Once I recognized my specific responsibilities as an active self manager, my relationship with my doctor evolved into a truly satisfying partnership.  By ensuring I clearly communicate the purpose of my visit, the symptoms that concern me and any specific questions I have, my appointments are well within the allotted 10 – 15 minutes, despite the number of chronic conditions I have.

Patients want to be part of the solution. I believe that supporting patients to learn self-management skills and to become active partners in our own health care is key to system transformation and sustainability.
To read the full report, visit

Key Words: Primary Health Care, Patient Engagement

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