Empowered patients

Stakeholder dialogues are an important part of all CSR programs (Corporate Social Responsibility). To discuss with stakeholders helps forming programs and initiatives in order to reach the objectives set up.

Today and yesterday I have had very interesting discussions with our peer companies within LIF (The Swedish Association of the Pharmaceutical Industry) and others stakeholders regarding patient empowerment. The empowered patient has been discussed for some years, and several trends in Swedish as well as in other markets underlines the importance of empowerment, e.g.:

- more and more information is available on-line, information that may change the ”power balance” in the relation between a physician and his/her patient,

- the ability for EU-citizens to seek health-care in other EU-countries, and

- the ”patient choice reform” in Sweden, where patients can chose the supplier of their health-care (regardless whether it is privately or publicly operated).

But was does it really mean with an ”empowered patient”. In my opinion the patient needs both the ability to make the choices and the information needed to make those choices correctly. And how do patients get hold of the needed information? What responsibility does the pharmaceutical industry have, and what are the responsibilities of PAGs (Patient Advocacy Groups) and government respectively?

We also discussed the potential difference between strong individual empowered patients and strong PAGs. Strong individual empowered patients probably rest on strong patient right regulations whereas a strong position for the Patent Advocacy Groups could more rely on clear and transparent processes for how decisons are made within agencies, County Councils and in other parts of the health-care sector.

I look forward to continuing discussions on Patient Empowerment, which in my view is closely linked to a lot of other areas in our CSR programs. Examples of such programs are:

- health promotion and different types of prevention initiatives,

- a wider usage of patient support programs, and

- consumer preference for ”green branded pharmaceuticals”.

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