Past Program

Dec 12 - Dec 17, 2010

The Greatest Untapped Resource in Healthcare? Informing and Involving Patients in Decisions about Their Medical Care


There are two different but complementary problems facing policy makers in various countries that are calling out for change. In developed countries, there is concern that healthcare delivery systems are becoming overdeveloped and overspecialized, and that downsizing would yield more effective and efficient use of resources. Meanwhile, developing countries seek to expand their health systems to meet the challenge of demographic change and the increasing burden of chronic disease. In all countries rising public expectations impose additional pressures on the sustainability of existing systems, pointing to a need to rethink priorities and spending plans.

It is critical that the well-being of patients remains at the center of healthcare. One essential part of ensuring that medical care best serves patients' interests is to make sure that patients themselves are routinely informed and engaged in decisions about their treatment and care. The science of evidence synthesis now makes it possible to provide patients with access to accurate, unbiased and balanced information in ways and to a degree that would previously have been impossible. This opens up the potential for new approaches in which patients are supported to play a key role as co-producers of health and managers of their own healthcare. Indeed consumers have been described as the greatest untapped resource in healthcare. Encouraging new evidence suggests that strengthening patient engagement could lead to more efficient and effective healthcare delivery. 

Drawing on the growing body of research on the value of informing and involving patients and how to do it, this session will consider its implications for the quality, safety, effectiveness and efficiency of care, for professional training and regulation, for health literacy, for service design, and for patients themselves. These issues have not previously been presented and widely discussed in an international venue. The involvement of clinical leaders, policymakers, researchers and patient representatives from a wide range of countries will enable discussion and debate on the relevance of this approach to different healthcare systems and its potential to transform global healthcare.

This session is being organized in collaboration with FIMDM, the Foundation for Informed Decision Making, a non-profit organization in the United States leading changes to ensure that health care decisions are made with the active participation of fully informed patients, and with the support of the Wellcome Trust.

Salzburg Global Seminar is grateful to BUPA and Health Dialog for their support of this session.

The session is also the second in a series of Salzburg policy forums on health and healthcare responding to the demographic, organizational, and financial challenges on the horizon for the coming generation. Among the outcomes will be a series of Salzburg papers on health and healthcare and a dedicated network of health and healthcare Fellows within the Salzburg Global Fellowship.

Click here to visit Foundation for Informed Medical Decision Making