Capturing patients’ perspectives
Patients do not wish to be simply passive recipients of health care but seek a two-way information exchange or dialogue with health care professionals. They also wish to be more involved in health care decisions that may impact their quality of life.
Involving patient support groups in Malta, the study found that the majority of these patient representatives are willing to participate more actively in the evaluation of new drugs or health technologies, and in decisions to include new drugs and technologies on the government formulary.
Conducted by Marianne Chetcuti, who obtained an MSc degree in Health Economics, Policy and Management at the London School of Economics & Political Science, the study was carried out following the award of a STEPS scholarship. This was part-financed by the European Union – European Social Fund (ESF) under Operational Programme II – Cohesion Policy 2007-2013, entitled “Empowering People for More Jobs and a Better Quality of Life”.
Ms Chetcuti found that patient involvement is however hindered by a lack of training and a lack of communication and consultation with health authorities. She explains: “The development of a patient-centred approach to health decision-making requires a strong political commitment to amend the legal framework and to support patient participation with the necessary organizational structures and financial resources.”
The study suggested that Ministry of Health in Malta can benefit from the experience of other countries, such as the UK, that have introduced various mechanisms to capture the perspectives of patients as well as the public in health decision-making. The involvement of patients and other stakeholders not only increases the transparency of the decision-making process, but also helps to gain the trust and support of patients and the public in health care coverage decisions that ultimately affect their quality of life.
“This study benefitted significantly from the active participation of patient support group and focus group representatives and from several experienced individuals who provided guidance and support,” said Ms Chetcuti.
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