Preventing chronic disease with patient engagement

chronic disease

In the world of healthcare, a shift from being reactive to proactive is taking place. It’s like switching from waiting for your car to break down before fixing it, to regular maintenance checks that keep it running smoothly. 

In the context of medical clinics, family health teams, and family doctors, this shift is happening through patient engagement, specifically when addressing chronic diseases. Patient engagement is a powerful tool that not only improves the quality of care but also plays a crucial role in preventing chronic diseases.

Understanding patient engagement

Patient engagement is about actively involving patients in their healthcare decisions and treatment plans. It transforms patients from passive recipients of healthcare services into active partners in their own well-being. This shift in mindset empowers patients to take control of their health, ask questions, and make informed choices, ultimately leading to better health outcomes.

The power of preventing chronic diseases

Chronic diseases are often referred to as “silent killers” because they tend to develop slowly over time, often without any noticeable symptoms until they reach an advanced stage. 

These diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension, are responsible for a significant portion of healthcare costs and, sadly, many preventable deaths. The good news is that many chronic diseases can be prevented or managed effectively through lifestyle changes and early interventions.

What the numbers say

These statistics illustrate the importance of preventing chronic diseases through patient engagement:

  • Global Economic Impact: Chronic diseases impose a colossal economic burden worldwide. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), non-communicable diseases (NCDs), including chronic conditions like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, are estimated to cost the global economy more than $47 trillion by 2030. This figure emphasizes the pressing need for proactive measures.
  • Canadian Healthcare Costs: In Canada, chronic diseases account for a substantial portion of healthcare expenditures. The Public Health Agency of Canada reports that chronic diseases are responsible for approximately 67% of total healthcare spending in the country.
  • Canadian Chronic Disease Prevalence: In Canada, about 6 in 10 adults live with at least one chronic condition, as reported by the Canadian Community Health Survey. These conditions can be better managed or prevented through patient engagement and proactive healthcare practices.

Real-World Examples of Patient Engagement

Shared Decision-Making: Family doctors and healthcare teams can engage patients in shared decision-making. For instance, when discussing treatment options for a patient with diabetes, the doctor can explain the pros and cons of different approaches, allowing the patient to choose the one that aligns with their lifestyle and preferences. This collaboration fosters a sense of ownership in the patient, leading to better adherence to the treatment plan.

Remote Monitoring: The advent of technology has enabled remote monitoring of chronic conditions. Patients with hypertension can use smart devices to regularly measure their blood pressure and transmit the data to their healthcare providers. This allows doctors to detect abnormalities early and make timely adjustments to the treatment plan, reducing the risk of complications.

Patient Education: Medical clinics can provide educational resources to patients about the importance of healthy lifestyle choices. For example, a family health team can organize workshops on nutrition and exercise, equipping patients with the knowledge and skills to make healthier choices in their daily lives.

Regular Check-Ups: Encouraging patients to schedule regular check-ups, even when they feel well, can lead to early detection of chronic conditions. Family doctors can emphasize the importance of routine health assessments and screenings, helping to identify potential issues before they escalate.

The final word

The shift from reactive to proactive healthcare is a game-changer, and patient engagement is at its core. 

By actively involving patients in their healthcare journey, medical clinics, family health teams, and family doctors can prevent chronic diseases, reduce healthcare costs, and save lives. 
The statistics are clear: chronic diseases are a significant burden on our healthcare system, but they are not invincible. With patient engagement, we have a powerful tool to transform healthcare and create a healthier future for all. So, let’s embrace this shift and work together to keep our patients healthy and thriving.

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