EMPATHiE-- Putting Patients at the Heart of the Solution

“They say knowledge is a dangerous thing, but it’s not one half so bad as a lot of ignorance.” Terry Pratchett, famous English author, recognized the power of knowledge. We see that knowledge plays a critical role in health care and treatment. The future of sustainable health systems relies on more than just the doctor’s knowledge, though. Informed patients will play a key role in improving public health, especially when addressing chronic diseases.

Chronic diseases account for 86% of deaths worldwide. In Europe alone, by 2030, 52 million people will die due to chronic diseases according to WHO estimates. This year, the European Patients Forum takes chronic diseases head on at the annual EPF Conference. Patient empowerment has proved one of the best ways to address chronic diseases. But what does an empowered patient look like?

Last year, the EU took on this question in the EMPATHiE study (it wouldn’t be Brussels without a good acronym). EMPATHiE stands for Empowering Patients in Their Health Management in Europe, but it’s not the acronym that’s important of course, it’s the findings. They defined patient empowerment as those who control how they live each day and who achieve their peak well-being through education and self-efficacy, and explored just how health systems can encourage this type of patient.

At the EPF 2015 Conference next week, we’re going to hear from all different sectors of the health community come together and discuss patient empowerment and how it relates to the challenge presented by chronic diseases. As European Patients’ Forum representative Walter Atzori’s put it just recently on Twitter: Patient empowerment is part of the solution to tackle current issues of healthcare systems. We are looking forward to the EPF event and hearing the views of many on what truly empowered patients look like in the 21st Century and how healthcare on every level can empower patients.