Patient-Centered Care: From Patient to Partner

DeJuan Patterson

Last month I had the pleasure of serving as a keynote speaker during the Re-Imagining Health Care Conference hosted by UT Health San Antonio School of Nursing. The conference focused on community based care. An amazing aspect of the conference was the common theme that permeated the event.

The Re-Imagining Health Care Conference’s diverse panels and speakers, indeed affirms the fact patient centered research can work across demographic and geographic areas.  As the country’s diversity continues to increase, the issues impacting people of color (i.e., the social determinants of health) are going to be of greater significance moving forward.  It is more important than ever for people of color to actively engage in all levels of research and application, including clinical trials, to ensure more robust and informed patient-centered treatment.

As a survivor of gun violence, I know the firsthand trauma of being victimized by a criminal, and then being victimized by the police for being an African American male. I realize having the choice of an ER and subsequent care, was instrumental in saving my life. It was at this point I transitioned from a patient to an adviser.  I knew I needed to be the voice for those who have experienced community violence and trauma.

As an adviser, I realize and understand agency and capacity building, within communities, is an essential element to empower individual community members to be equal partners in the patient-centered outcomes process. My experiences, as a victim of gun violence have taught me the importance of having  a voice and developing my own agency , as it relates to one’s medical treatment and recovery.

Imagine a seventeen-year-old young man, being sent home after suffering a gunshot wound to the head, with little to no post-surgery instructions or care. It was up to my family, and I to navigate the process of my health care recovery.  All of this is a reflection of a lack of agency, based on race and geography. Providing necessary education and training to community members and practitioners, creates a bidirectional relationship that is mutually beneficial and will result in better health outcomes. The PATIENTS Program is affirmed as a promising practice for communities across the globe. The program examined the cost of gun violence and its collateral impact on the psychological health of the individuals and the community as a whole. Healthy treatment options were established as the first step in dealing with the side effects of violence in our communities.

I would like to see more advocates of diverse communities’ transition from being solely patient advocates to healthcare advisers who are empowered to decide what is being studied regarding their healthcare. This is a workforce development issue.  Working with healthcare institutions and practitioners, I have had the luxury to shift the research focus to a relevant topic that was impacting my community. It has been my responsibility to educate and provide technical assistance to those interested in working in a patient centered environment.

Imagine how many patients would be willing to participate in research and clinical trials when they are certain their participation would benefit people like of themselves, their family or other community members.  Other healthcare benefits from empowering patient-centered care results in: relevant research topics and approaches that increases participation, reduces medical mistrust and more meaningful and accurate information.

A healthy community makes for healthy community members.  It is an imperative that community members be recognized (1) as adding value, and (2) as being an equal partner in their own healthcare.

Post written by: DeJuan Patterson, MPA, Strategic Advisor, Baltimore City Office of the Mayor, Keynote Presenter: Re-Imagining Healthcare Conference November 5-6, 2018, San Antonio, TX


Article Categories: Blog

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