Patient Enablement: Empowering Patients to Manage Their Care — In conversation with Erin Jospe

Point of View
3 min readMar 20, 2024
Image by Unsplash

Part of the solution to the shortcomings of our current healthcare system is acknowledging that patients need more options when it comes to managing their own health. The lack of appointments and the steep cost of healthcare has caused so many people to lose access to clinicians entirely — enabling patients to manage their own health, when reasonable and intentional, can expand opportunities for wellness and health to so many people.

We’re in conversation with Erin Jospe, an advocate for the empowerment of health ownership through education with over twenty years of clinical experience. A curious and empathetic leader and trusted advisor, Erin brings a multi-stakeholder perspective into decision-making to create alignment and long-term success.

The healthcare industry, dynamic as it is, is undergoing more reform than ever before. People are realizing its shortcomings and striving to make a change for the better. According to you, what should the ‘solution’ look like? How does patient enablement tie in?

Patient enablement means having the skillset, confidence, and knowledge to take care of yourself and to know when you need clinical help. We cannot keep people dependent on seeing a clinician, then tell them that there aren’t enough clinicians; however, people aren’t often in a position to recognize the symptoms that matter and address them. So, how do we help develop patient enablement by teaching the skills necessary for them to care for themselves?

We must create a space for patients to access reliable health information that they can trust. I think there’s an opportunity for the payers to step up in this capacity because having insurance (despite being out of reach for many) is still more accessible than forming a relationship with a doctor. Insurance too often can feel like an obstacle between yourself and your healthcare, but payers can change this mindset by filling this void to seamlessly provide timely, reliable health information. The role of retail clinics and pharmacies is another opportunity, developed into community health centers that are imbued with trusted sources of culturally competent health education.

It goes without saying that health systems should continue to re-invent what their engagement strategies look like to ensure that their patient communities feel welcome and have their needs met. Even if systems prefer patient visits to be brick-and-mortar, that is not what patients want the majority of the time. During the height of the pandemic, so much care was delivered virtually — now, those same health systems have bottomed out the number of virtual appointments available. We must ask: why is that the case?

Consider the difference between a childhood type 1 diabetes diagnosis in the past versus in today’s age. Years ago, helping a child manage their type 1 diabetes required intense management and came with a lower life expectancy and lower quality of life; today, between having a continuous glucose monitor and insulin pump, school-aged kids and their caregivers learn to take care of their health independently. This is a tremendous success story — so why haven’t we offered the same degree of agency and education to people with other medical conditions? We should acknowledge that patients are capable, so long as they’ve learned the necessary knowledge and skills.

There is no one overarching solution for the issue of access to healthcare — it’s going to take many parallel approaches to transform the entire healthcare industry to meet the needs of patients. My hope and expectations are that we will be broader in the approaches and channels that we leverage to reach people, while also acknowledging the patient holistically rather than approaching each condition they may have individually and requiring a one-off point solution; a patient is a whole person, not just a series of conditions that need treatment.

Thank you for sharing, Erin.

Connect with Erin Jospe on LinkedIn.

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Point of View

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