Winter is Coming

October 02, 2020

Alex Merckx, Director of Marketing and Partnerships at Cognitant

Should I eat the ginseng or the soybeans? Is it best to take Ibuprofen or try out the acupuncture..?

Prevention is better than cure. As patients, we are all aware of this, but taking action to prevent or manage a health condition is sometimes easier said than done! What ‘self-help’ advice should I follow?

We’ve all turned to ‘Dr Google’ at some time to follow advice as to how to keep healthy, manage symptoms or conditions and faced, as a result, a minefield of health ‘advice’, ‘self-help’ and ‘education’ from unregulated sources which are often conflicting, confusing or simply incorrect.

With the immeasurable amount of information available on the internet, knowing which content to trust and follow can be a source of anxiety in its own right.

Patients should be given a clear understanding of their health — achieved with access to credible, accurate and easy to understand health information Patients should be given a clear understanding of their health — achieved with access to credible, accurate and easy to understand health information

Patients should be given a clear understanding of their health — achieved with access to credible, accurate and easy to understand health information

Meanwhile, the Prevention Green Paper set out by the British Health Secretary has stated: “In the 2020’s, people will not be passive recipients of care. They will be co-creators of their own health. The challenge is to equip them with the skills, knowledge and confidence they need to help themselves”.

Yes, thank you, this makes sense. Please equip me. Empower me.

It is a challenge though.

At the heart of this lies the idea that patients should be given a clear understanding of their health — achieved with access to credible, accurate and easy to understand health information. This means empowering people with better health information — particularly crucial given the increasing burden of chronic long-term conditions which account for 75% of healthcare costs in developed nations.

To achieve the mission of patients being ‘co-creators of their own health’, we will need to combat three clear challenges — misinformation online, limited consultation time and poor health literacy.

Limited consultation time is not a new issue. The average patient consultation in the UK, even before COVID 19, was 9 minutes. This gives us very little time to ask our doctors for information and advice around how to best manage our health — risking us turning back to the misinformed Dr Google again.

Covid-19 has accelerated our healthcare system into a world of triage first and virtual consulting and it is predicted that, post COVID 19, 70% of consultations will be delivered virtually. Without face-to-face appointments and the ability to provide patient information leaflets directly to patients, healthcare professionals face a growing challenge of how best to educate us, the patient, beyond the virtual consultation.

Finally, issues around health literacy raises alarm bells. 43% of people lack the literacy skills to understand typical health information. This does not mean that 57% have clear understanding of their health either. We have all experienced confusion caused by technical medical terms or simply failed to follow advice and instruction due to long or dull text. This inevitably leads to poor adherence levels, with 50% of prescribed medication not taken correctly.

We hope that our Healthinote app can help to form part of the solution. Our mission is very simple — to provide health information, that is easy to understand and access, to ultimately empower people to better manage their health and care for others. Via our app, we offer clear, clinically-led educational experiences that can be prescribed by a doctor and easily accessed by patients on smartphones, tablets and in virtual reality, at their convenience. Integrated with online consultation services, Healthinote can optimise the consultation experience, providing patients with reliable information to empower and enable effective self-management.

We are always keen to hold discussions with potential partners who can share with us our mission to empower patients with better health information. If you are interested in talking to us about how we can help to achieve a more patient-centric approach, please contact hello@cognitant.com. We want to help patients to help themselves.

Personally, I can’t wait to be empowered!

For reliable, verified medical advice and guidance, you can download the Healthinote app here.