Policy-makers and patients shine at the International Patients’ Union Conference

This year, the International Patients’ Union Conference focused on ‘Leveraging Technology for  Patient Engagement and Improving Treatment Outcomes.’

With a mission to transform healthcare in India and make it patient-driven, the International Patients’ Union hosted India’s only Patients’ Conference again this year in New Delhi. The International Patients’ Union aims to address the issues of accessibility, affordability, and  quality of healthcare and make healthcare patient- and outcome-driven by involving patients  in the decision-making discourse. 

This year, the International Patients’ Union Conference focused on ‘Leveraging Technology for  Patient Engagement and Improving Treatment Outcomes.’ By facilitating dialogue among  healthcare stakeholders and providing a platform for patients to articulate their concerns and  recommendations, the Conference captured key takeaways to foster a proactive, transparent,  and outcome-driven healthcare system, which will be submitted to the Union Health Minister  and the NITI Aayog. 

The Conference was graced by the top leaders, including Dr Thomas Zeltner, Chairman of the  WHO Foundation; Bharat Lal, Secretary General, National Human Rights Commission  (NHRC), India; K.J. Alphons, IAS (Retired), Former Union Minister, Government of  India; Dr B.N. Gangadhar, Chairman of the National Medical Commission; Dr K. Srinath  Reddy, Founder President, Public Health Foundation of India; Dr K. Madan Gopal, Advisor – Public Health Administration, NHSRC; Dr R.K. Srivastava, Former Chairman, Medical  Council of India, & Former Director General of Health Services, Government of India; Dr Raman Kumar, President of the Association of Family Physicians of India; Dr T. Dileep  Kumar, President, Nursing Council of India; Akshay Jain, Joint – Director, National Health  Authority among others. This is the only Conference where patients take center stage, and  almost a dozen patients present their cases and the learnings to transform the system. An ASHA worker shared her experience as a key speaker. This conference is unique in many ways and  shared unfiltered views from the end users. 

The Conference witnessed the launch of the new features of the Patients Union App, prominent  amongst which are the Patient-Reported Outcomes feature, wherein users will be able to rate  doctors, hospitals, healthcare professionals, and Government schemes. The SHE app was launched (SHE -Safety, Health, and Empowerment ), This app is aimed to empower women  and nudge them to take care of their health. 

Dr Rajendra Pratap Gupta, former advisor to the Union Health Minister and founder of the  International Patient Union, informed, that the IPU app will take the mediators away between  the patients and the providers and allow them to directly report the ADRs via app and over the  next few weeks and also rate the doctors, hospitals and government schemes besides seeking  authentic information on medicines. He further announced the integration of the eSanjeevani  service with the Patients Union App to facilitate teleconsultations so that the patients get access  to authentic doctors, removing the barriers of distance and time. Gupta added that the IPU app  is not just about giving voice to the patients but also the power to transform the healthcare  system; it’s about driving a bottom-up change. 

A key tech-driven initiative launched at the International Patients’ Union Conference was TRx  – a new-age prescription keeping with the needs of the technology-enabled healthcare delivery  and aiming to create awareness and transparency for patients who are prescribed tech- products  and services and also enable clinicians to give the proper counseling on how to use digital  health tools. Launching the TRx is a step towards Shared Decision-Making in medical practice,  leveraging technology for patient engagement and improving treatment outcomes. 

Dr Zeltner addressing the Conference, said that  Patients should be at the center of healthcare; it is our job to make sure that patients’ self-esteem  is maintained throughout their healthcare journey, and they should feel loved. He further added  that technology can bring a lot of required change. He emphasized the need to use technology  in a way where it increases the amount of time doctors spend with patients. 

Dr Gangadhar emphasised the role of  Therapeutic intentions in treating patients. He also spoke on the need to train doctors with  communication skills. The healthcare community needs to work in three key areas: Attitude, communication, and ethics. 

Bharat Lal, Secretary General of the Human Rights Commission, said, we have started  thinking and talking from patients’ perspective. He also raised the issue of mental health as a  significant focus of Indian Healthcare, as almost 11 per cent of the population faces some mental  health issues. He added that there are not enough mental health institutions, and the current ones are substandard. Service delivery has to be robust so that everyone has the right to  affordable, accessible, and quality healthcare. 

The former Union Minister, Alphons K.J., said that patients have just become a ‘receipt’ in the healthcare system, and this has to change. They have to be treated like human beings. 

Discussions on various topics took place, focusing on Innovative Solutions that can transform  healthcare and the use of Generative AI, Ml, and LLM in patient care. The panel during the  discussion agreed on the fact that AI-ML holds a lot of promise for improving patient care, but  it will need validation and research to realise its full potential. 

Through the Pathfinder Awards, the Conference also recognised people and organisations that  have contributed exceptionally to empowering patients and making their lives easier. It encouraged others to take the plunge and make a difference. 

health policypatient safetypolicy makersWHO
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