Patient involvement – ideology or active practice?: reflections on a conversation with Carol Munt
Dr Calisha Allen, National Student Ambassador for the Doubleday Centre, discusses how doctors and medical students can encourage patients to be more involved with their own treatment plan, reflecting on a recent event with Carol Munt.
Diagnosis and treatment are the cornerstones of our work. However, as clinicians we should strive to understand how our management plans exists within our patients’ lives.
Understanding patients’ personal history will help you understand how the management plan can be enacted. This is a vital part of the social history in the Calgary-Cambridge guide to the medical interview. This will help you to individualise and create a treatment plan that is both realistic and sustainable for the patient.
How does your treatment plan fit in with the patient’s everyday life? Encourage your patient to take an active role in the consultation, working with them to self-generate how they can best make use of treatment plan and services. This improves the doctor-patient relationship, builds trust, and empowers the patient to take an active role in their health.
As part of your patient’s personal history, you should explore if the patient needs or has a carer. If your patient does have a carer, with the patient’s permission, involve them in the discussions and the planning.
Remember that carers are a key element in patient care and therefore to the execution of the management plan, as recently discussed in another blog post: The role of carers: reflections on a conversation with Dame Philippa Russell.
Support your patients to understand their treatment plan, including the role of individual drugs. Patients are often keen to understand the role of different medications. This can help encourage medication adherence through better understanding, and help patients to give more information in their drug history when meeting other healthcare professionals.
Reviewing a patient’s medications with them is also a great time to look at polypharmacy and rationalise medications, where appropriate.
Encourage patients to make lifestyle changes to improve their health. This is an element that many patients can take a lead on and can be supported by social prescribing. Moving Medicine provides clinicians with resources to support social prescribing. These resources support physical activity and social interaction, complementing prescribed treatment plans.
Finally, we are encouraged to share good practice. Across our hospitals and trusts, we have many excellent programmes and initiatives that improve patient care and the patient experience. We should work to share these examples of good practice.
Tips for medical students and clinicians
- Don’t forget to introduce yourself to the patient, including your name and your role.
- Ask the patient how they would like to be addressed.
- Invite them to ask questions throughout the consultation.
- Avoid acronyms, as this makes conversations more difficult to follow. Take time to understand your patient’s existing knowledge, and use lay language to make the consultation accessible.