Transforming healthcare by empowering patients

Clear communication by physiotherapists is critical in ensuring patients understand the rationale, benefits and possible risks of the treatment prior to carrying out the intervention (Physiotherapists' conduct under the spotlight; March 26).

Equally important is how the patient is empowered to speak his mind during the two-way communication process.

Empowering the patient involves a health system or clinicians giving patients the authority to take care of themselves in the form of a collaborative partnership.

The question is: Is healthcare ready for it?

Despite this moveto a more consumer-based approach in healthcare, an article by The New England Journal of Medicine Catalyst published in December last year hypothesised that paternalism in healthcare has yet to make the shift.

This is not surprising in view of a hierarchical relationship between patients and healthcare professionals.

Physiotherapists play a key role in patient, family and caregiver education. We certainly need to be part of this movement towards patient empowerment.

Striving towards patient empowerment moves beyond a single clinical encounter and a single profession. It essentially demands more than what healthcare professionals can do on our own. It is a journey where we are part of a social movement that would require much thought and care.

Lee Sin Yi (Miss)

President

Singapore Physiotherapy Association