The Patient-as-Partner Approach in Health Care: A Conceptual Framework for a Necessary Transition

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Abstract

The prevalence of chronic diseases today calls for new ways of working with patients to manage their care. Although patient-centered approaches have contributed to significant advances in care and to treatments that more fully respect patients’ preferences, values, and personal experiences, the reality is that health care professionals still hold a monopoly on the role of healer. Patients live with their conditions every day and are experts when it comes to their own experiences of illness; this expertise should be welcomed, valued, and fostered by other members of the care team. The patient-as-partner approach embodies the ideal of making the patient a bona fide member of the health care team, a true partner in his or her care. Since 2010, the University of Montreal, through the Direction of Collaboration and Patient Partnership, has embraced this approach. Patients are not only active members of their own health care team but also are involved in research and provide valuable training to health sciences students. Including patients as full partners in the health care team entails a significant shift in both the medical practice and medical education cultures. In this perspective, the authors describe this innovative approach to patient care, including the conceptual framework used in its development and the main achievements of patient partners in education, health care, and research.

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