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The Bright Side and the Dark Side of Patient Empowerment


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Table of Contents

Chapter I: Contextualizing Patient EmpowermentThe first chapter introduces the main topic of the volume. In particular, it provides the reader with a contextualization of patient empowerment, pointing out the attributes that build this construct. Drawing on a systematic literature review, the origins of the patient empowerment concept are outlined. Besides, the different perspectives suggested by the scientific literature are discussed, in an attempt to devise an overarching definition of patient empowerment. In light of the theoretical framework depicted in the first section, patient empowerment is presented as a crucial ingredient of the health reforms inspiring the future shapes of the healthcare service system in Western Countries. Patient empowerment implies a transition from the traditional biomedical/industrial model of care to a patient-centered approach to care, which conceives the patient as a value co-creator. The main approaches and tools to implement patient empowerment are described in the third section. It suggests a tentative recipe for patient empowerment, emphasizing the role of healthcare organizations in enabling patients. Both individual health literacy and organizational health literacy turn out to be crucial to realize the full potential of patient empowerment.

1.1 Toward a consistent definition of patient empowerment1.2 The role of patient empowerment in current health reforms1.3 A recipe for patient empowerment?1.4 Empowering healthcare organizations to empower patients
Chapter II: The Bright Side of Patient Empowerment
The second chapter focuses on the bright side of patient empowerment. First of all, it builds a link between patient empowerment and value co-creation. Empowered patients are more willing to participate in health decision-making and to establish a co-creating partnership with healthcare providers. In other word, patient empowerment reconceptualises the patient-provider relationship, identifying the former as an active agent, rather than as a passive consumer of health services. As well, patient empowerment is considered to be a requisite to service co-production. In fact, empowered patients are more willing to be involved in the design and delivery of health services, thus performing as real service co-producers. From this point of view, patient empowerment paves the way for lower healthcare costs, thus contributing to enhancing the sustainability of the healthcare service system. In addition, patient empowerment is associated with better health outcomes. Ultimately, the involvement of patients in the provision of health services allows a better distribution of responsibilities between the patients and the providers of care, reducing inappropriate access to health services.
2.1. Patients as value co-creators2.2. Patients as service co-producers2.3. Establishing a link between patient empowerment and healthcare costs2.4. The effects of patient empowerment on health outcomes
Chapter III: The Dark Side of Patient EmpowermentThe third and concluding section discusses the dark side of patient empowerment. Drawing on the most recent development in the fields of service science and healthcare management, patient empowerment itself is assumed to be not sufficient to realize patient engagement. Indeed, patient empowerment does not pave the way for patient involvement whether or not it is associated with a process of patients' enablement. Empowered patients who are not able or unwilling to actively participate in the design and delivery of care are at risk of co-destroying value. From this standpoint, the second section provides several examples of co-destruction in the healthcare environment. This analysis paves the way for the enlightening of the dark side of patient empowerment. Theoretical and empirical insights to push forward the scientific knowledge in the field of patient empowerment concludes this volume, encouraging further developments.

3.1 Is patient empowerment enough?3.2 Patients as value co-destroyers3.3 Enlightening the dark side of patient empowerment

About the Author

Rocco Palumbo, PhD, is a research fellow in Organizational Studies in the Department of Management and Innovation Systems and adjunct professor of Organizational Structuring and Accounting at the University of Salerno in Salerno, Italy. Dr. Palumbo is also adjunct professor of Organizational Studies at the School of Medicine at the University of Naples, Italy.


"Patient empowerment is the focus of this brief report, which attempts to define this concept and determine the gaps in knowledge regarding patient empowerment and how to implement it in clinical or research situations. ... the author aims to attract readers interested in healthcare management and public health, including students, scholars, health professionals, policy makers, and senior management. ... This book is a nice addition to healthcare literature." (Carole A. Kenner, Doody's Book Reviews, July, 2017)

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