Patients as Partners: Personalised Healthcare on the Horizon

Patients as Partners: Personalised Healthcare on the Horizon

Patients as Partners: Why you should never overlook the human element

By Liliane de Vries

When most people (patients and providers) think of innovations in healthcare, technological advancement often comes first to mind. With rapidly evolving diagnostic tools, monitoring systems, and cutting-edge treatments, patients are experiencing a drastic improvement in care received, and this upward trend shows little sign of slowing.

However, given all of these advancements, it’s easy to overlook one of the most important aspects of healthcare: the human element.

Patients as Partners is an approach to healthcare that is gaining momentum in medicine, reminding providers that, at the end of the day, healthcare is about people treating people. It’s a constitutive element of the Relationship-centred care approach.

What is Patients as Partners?

Patients as Partners is a collaborative approach to healthcare that involves patients building a strong relationship with their healthcare providers to obtain a more comprehensive and individualised plan. “Patients as Partners: A Qualitative Study of Patients’ Engagement in Their Health Care” characterises this approach as a “concept where the patient is considered a full-fledged partner of the health care delivery team.”

For patients with chronic illnesses, the Patients as Partners method allows them to take a more proactive role in their care by incorporating their experiences and goals into their personalised treatment plan. Furthermore, Patients as Partners breaks down the barriers between patient and provider.

I love this expression. Patients and their families as experts with lived experience.

How Patients as Partners is impacting healthcare

Patients as Partners offers a myriad of benefits to both patients and providers through open communication and a commitment to positioning patients to make informed decisions alongside their doctors about treatment options. Areas where these impacts are most profound encompass self-education and self-management.


Self-education plays a variety of roles in a patient’s healthcare experience. A starting point for Patients as Partners, education provides the foundation for improved health by teaching self-management. In a study measuring the impact of self-help education on arthritis patients, patients that trained in self-education “increased both their knowledge and practice of self-management” and experienced a decline in pain through the practice of these behaviours.


In addition to self-education, patients can learn and employ self-management skills that can potentially offer several benefits, increasing a patient’s quality of life through multiple vantage points. These benefits extend beyond practising positive behaviour and can even reduce costs by empowering patients with chronic conditions to improve their outcome wherever appropriate and possible. Through self-management, patients are offered an opportunity to gain more control over their treatment options.