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Citizen Engagement and Healthcare’s Transformation to Life-Based Care

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Adam Bazer

The life expectancy of Americans is declining.

Knowing that something needs to change, we have to ask ourselves, how can we transform healthcare from what Judy Murphy described as “episodic-based care to life-based care”?

For Murphy, chief nursing officer at IBM Healthcare and recent recipient of HIMSS’s Most Influential Women in Health IT Award, the only way we are going to “change population health writ large is by changing individuals one by one. But,” Murphy stated on a recent episode of STEPS to Value, “in order to actually look at what it takes for an individual to change their health, [healthcare providers] have to get their patients engaged. Some people call it patient engagement. Some people call it citizen engagement.”

What Judy is asking us to acknowledge is a new social contract for health, one that illustrates belief in the idea that my own personal health behaviors, advocated for and facilitated by my provider, impact the whole as much as the individual.

Being an Engaged Citizen of the Healthcare System

Judy MurphyHIMSS Women in Health IT

We need to be aware of how our own behavior impacts the larger systems designed to maintain our health. As Judy Murphy described it, being an engaged citizen of the healthcare system “involves active participation in your care, making sure there’s shared decision-making between you and your providers, that there are advanced directives put in place and you’re not just the receiver of care but you’re the active planner of your own care.”

We need to have a willingness to activate our own healthy behaviors, to take actions that both empower us and our provider, like creating advanced care directives, and to change our mindset from passive receivers to active consumers of healthcare services.

Transitioning to Life-Based Care

Judy stressed that the transformation from episodic-based care to life-based care is a long journey, a “culture change like smoking, like seatbelts. This isn’t going to happen overnight. But it is going to happen. And we are putting things in motion now to be able to do that, from the way we pay for healthcare to the way we deliver it … We as practitioners,” Murphy emphasized, “we have to take this on, to help patients see the way, not just how important it is to be empowered, but how much better the healthcare is when patients are empowered.”

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