A new report claims that patient involvement will become more crucial for controlling healthcare costs and improving standards.

The analysis, called Fixing Healthcare, written by the Economist Intelligence Unit and commissioned by Philips, notes that more than 80% of professionals in the sector polled say that patient-centred care – “in which patients have more say in the treatment process and take more responsibility for their own health” – will be important “or even critical in containing” costs. However, they fear a lack of political will may stand in the way of implementing such changes in a number of countries.__

More than 700 professionals, ”from frontline medical staff to life science industry executives” in the USA, UK, Germany and India, responded to the poll. Respondents in most regions feel that standards of care in their country have declined over the last two years, and have noted signs of a changing emphasis in some healthcare policies, from sickness to prevention. _

Iain Scott, the report’s editor at the EIU, noted that it has become increasingly apparent that, “as patients become more educated and proactive, they are more likely to frame the healthcare agenda”. He said that this will clearly create “additional pressures on healthcare systems, but ultimately if patients can be empowered to manage their own health more effectively, they can also be part of the solution".

The report also noted that while generally satisfied with their jobs, healthcare professionals in the UK, USA and Germany admit to being less satisfied than they were two years ago, and less confident that their systems can cope with increased demands. More than one-third of US and UK health professionals, and 60% of their counterparts in Germany, say their healthcare systems have declined in efficiency over the last two years.
In India, however, more than 50% say the system is more efficient and effective, with better training, easier access to the latest treatments and technology, generally healthier citizens and happier patients. Nevertheless, the report’s authors claim it is important “to read these responses in context—the Indian healthcare system is basic in many respects, and faces huge challenges of its own”._

Only 15% of respondents – and in Germany, just 3% – believe that their government's healthcare policy has improved in recent years. They blame factors such as understaffing, stress, paperwork and administrative work for their dissatisfaction.

The report also notes that “patients are less passive today than in the past and their proactivity is contributing to strains on healthcare systems”. The survey respondents say patients expect higher standards of care than in the past, more information about their treatment, more involvement in relevant decisions about their care, and access to the latest drugs.
The study concludes that modern healthcare has largely been focused on cures, but many in the industry believe that focus needs to change to emphasise preventive medicine, particularly as the incidence of preventable chronic diseases (cancer, heart disease and diabetes) continues to rise.