Engage patients with information

A shared decision-making model and actively engaging the patient in their own treatment is already a part and a goal of many treatment plans.

Johanna Markkanen


The patient knows best their own life and their personal experience of the illness. In an ideal situation the patient is participating in their own treatment – sharing the decision-making power and responsibility. But on what grounds?

Patient’s wishes and values affecting the decision to be treated

Patient’s attitude and engagement, that can be majorly influenced through providing information and understanding, affect the patient’s decision whether they want to be treated or not. This, in turn, has a direct link to the expenses of the treatment and the absence of the treatment. It’s not unusual that a scientifically proved treatment or method clashes with the patient’s own wishes and values. This may adversely affect the patient’s agreeableness to be treated.

According to research, only 50 % of patients suffering from high blood pressure follow their doctor’s instructions on how to take their medication. Of those patients taking warfarin, a quarter refuse to take their prescribed medication. Preventative medication is often neglected by patients because of weak incentives.

Right timing of information

To engage and commit to their treatment, a patient needs to receive sufficient information about their illness and treatment, as well as the goals and risks associated with the treatment. The information needs to be reliable, clear and concise. Preferably the materials are to be found from a book or the Internet and produced together with health care professionals to ensure its accuracy and comprehensiveness. It’s also good to provide information for the patient’s family.

Today, the patients are proactive and search information about their illness and its treatment on their own. The materials are diverse and there’s plenty of it about common diseases. However, as research and treatments advance, most illnesses divide into sub-categories and the need for information grows.

On the other hand, the amount of false and inaccurate information is increasing as well. Anyone can pose as “almost a doctor” fairly easily online or in the media. If the smarter-than-Western-medicine mums have managed to drop the vaccination rate to only 70 % in the Ostrobothnia, what other damage can misleading communication cause?

Finding the right information

In Finland, many parties provide patients accurate and reliable information about illnesses, their treatment options, treatment and how the patient can participate in their own treatment. However, the public resources aren’t enough to fund everything and for instance patient organisations and the medical industry provide crucial support.

Perhaps the biggest public social effort to provide reliable information resources for patients is specialist health care online service Terveyskylä (www.terveyskyla.fi) that already hosts an impressive amount of information. Hopefully, as with many other health portals, the challenge won’t to find and maintain receiving funding after the first excitement passes. Finding a particular piece of advice amongst the information masses may also prove to be challenging for the patients.

Yet another party worth mentioning is the healthcare video hub Medituubi (www.medituubi.fi). From what I’ve noticed, many people still seem to be aware of the excellent website, that contains a great number of videos about a variety of topics made by health care professionals.

Need help with patient communications?

If you need any ideas or support with planning and executing your patient communications, the Myy Agency team is happy to help. We have a skilled healthcare communications team that will gladly make and manage your patient guides, patient websites, social media channels and their contents targeted for your patients, awareness campaigns, social marketing, nurse materials, training materials, patient information events and all other supporting materials and channels. Drop us a message!

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