#1: You Can’t Be There All the Time
The time a patient spends with a practitioner in an office or hospital is often a tiny percentage of their entire care journey. As soon as a patient walks out the door, it is up to them to implement the recommendations you’ve suggested. So, in essence, patients already play a huge part in self-managing their own care—it’s more a question of whether they’re able to do it well.
By embracing patient self-management, doctors have the opportunity to proactively provide their patients with the resources necessary to ensure successful care outside of the office. Technology makes it easier than ever for doctors to collaborate with patients—why not use these capabilities to offer curated content that will help a patient get better, even when you’re not around?
#2: You Don’t Know Everything Going on in a Patient’s Life
Undoubtedly, the doctor is the expert when it comes to disease—if every patient tried to self-diagnose and treat using Dr. Google, we’d all be in trouble. But the self-management model acknowledges an important fact: that the patient is the expert of their own lives.
So, while you may know the best treatment plan medically speaking, you may not have a good sense of how feasible it will be for the patient to implement it given the realities of their lives.
In patient self-management, the focus shifts to educating the patient about their disease and the options that they have, but more power is in their hands to decide what course of treatment they want to pursue, allowing them to take into account what feels possible in their lives.
#3: You Can’t Motivate a Patient on Your Own
You can only do so much for a patient if they aren’t willing to help themselves. I truly believe so much of successful medical care is in the mind, and if the patient doesn’t believe they can follow a treatment plan or doesn’t think it’s going to work, then they’re probably right.
This goes back to that idea of driving our own decisions. If the patient feels like they’re just following orders from you, they might feel less invested in actually doing it (or worse, feel rebellious against it). But if they’ve played an active part in determining their treatment plan, suddenly the motivation is coming from within.
The self-management model is all about improving a patient’s sense of self-efficacy—showing them that they are capable of taking care of themselves. By improving their confidence in themselves, you start to improve their confidence that they will be able to get better.