This includes a range of tools and techniques, for example:
- Encouraging healthy behaviors – both through a focus on high risk behavior and longer term lifestyle change through direct support such as coaching, incentives and mechanisms such as text reminders.
- Supporting self-diagnosis and management through phone and web services, the use of retail pharmacy, community workers, etc.
- Helping patients make decisions and navigate the system through apps and decision aids, and care navigators.
For most patients, for most of their illness, the person who spends the most time and effort caring for them are the patients themselves, their family or their carer. Over a year, patients are caring for themselves and their condition for about 5,800 waking hours. It is unusual to spend 10 of those hours in the company of a healthcare professional. Often the considerable resource contained in that time and effort does not provide as much return as it might because professionals have not recognized how they can invest their skills to improve its capacity.
Other industries – most of retail and most retail banking – have recognized how some investment will make customers into co-producers of value, rather than simply a set of costs. In social care services users have been systemic coproducers of value for some time. This has transformed the way these industries work but healthcare has some way to go in understanding how much patients put into this co-production and how better investment from healthcare professionals in supporting patient self-care can improve the outcomes from this work. Even when some recognition is given to how much ‘work’ patients carry out in their own self-care, very few healthcare organizations would for example invest any real training resource on patients when compared to their paid staff.