Austin Umeh
Austin Umeh

Healthcare, at its best, should be a collaborative effort. I will argue that a patient-centric approach, where patients are active partners in their care, is essential for a more effective and efficient healthcare system. While the focus will be on the UK’s National Health Service (NHS), the issues addressed are universal.


One major challenge lies in the fragmented nature of healthcare systems. Patients often navigate a maze of specialists and facilities, each with potentially incompatible electronic medical records (EMRs). This lack of interoperability, as exemplified by the fictional case of Sarah Philips, delays diagnosis, frustrates patients, and wastes resources.


Sarah Philips, a 60-year-old lady with a history of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, recently experienced severe chest pain and consequently called an ambulance for emergency medical assistance. Upon arrival at the Emergency Department of a large city NHS Trust, it was discovered that her local suburban hospital (which operates under the same Trust but lacks a cardiology department), utilized different Electronic Medical Record (EMR) systems from her primary care physician (GP) and specialists. This presented significant challenges in retrieving Sarah’s comprehensive medical history, as the API connections established for this purpose proved to be unreliable and inefficient.

The unavailability of critical information such as medication lists, allergies, and past specialist notes led to delays in diagnosis and treatment decisions. Healthcare professionals resorted to making phone calls and sending fax requests to Sarah’s local hospital and GP to gather the missing data, which not only postponed Sarah’s care but also had a detrimental impact on other patients’ waiting times.

In the absence of a centralized and integrated EMR system, healthcare providers were compelled to manually input data from retrieved documents, increasing the likelihood of errors. This, in turn, could have resulted in incorrect medication prescriptions and contradictory treatment plans.

Understandably, Sarah felt disillusioned and neglected throughout this ordeal, as she was repeatedly asked to relay her medical history despite it being documented elsewhere. The lack of cohesion in managing her healthcare records may have impeded the continuity of care and potentially compromised her well-being.


Several factors contribute to this fragmentation of healthcare data. Conflicts of interest during vendor selection within healthcare trusts, coupled with lobbying by powerful medical technology companies, can prioritize profit over data sharing. These concerns are by no means unfounded.

During a session conducted by the Association of British Health-tech Industries on “The potential ramifications of bribery and corruption within the Healthcare & Life Sciences sector,” the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) identified the pharmaceutical and medical device sectors as particularly susceptible to corruption. (1)


Furthermore, a lack of standardized EMR systems across the NHS hinders patient data portability. This not only frustrates patients but also hinders continuity of care. The Ministry of Health has a crucial role to play in mandating unified medical management software to streamline processes and prioritize patient-centricity.


Another outdated norm is the paternalistic model of care, where doctors dictate treatment plans with limited patient involvement. While shared decision-making models are gaining traction, they haven’t achieved widespread adoption. This not only disregards patient autonomy but also deprives patients of valuable education and empowerment opportunities. This issue is particularly concerning in developing countries and secondary/tertiary institutions within developed nations.


The current emphasis on treatment over prevention is another area for improvement. While patient education plays a role major role here, healthcare institutions often fall short in promoting preventive measures.


The NHS England blog post, “Putting patients at the heart of all we do,” highlights the importance of patient participation in shaping healthcare commissioning processes. This not only empowers patients but also ensures services align with community needs, ultimately leading to better health outcomes. (2)


Patient-centricity offers a multitude of benefits. It improves individual health outcomes, increases patient satisfaction, and fosters a more efficient healthcare system through better resource allocation and reduced costs. Most importantly, it respects patient autonomy and dignity, an ethical imperative.

The integration of modern technology, including telehealth services, wearable devices, and interoperable electronic health records, represents just a fraction of the innovative solutions available to empower patients and drive the transition toward patient-centric care. A cultural shift within healthcare is also necessary. We need to promote collaboration, shared decision-making, and patient education. Additionally, advocating for policies that incentivize patient-centric care, promote transparency, and hold providers accountable is essential.


Imagine a future where patients seamlessly access their data, actively participate in their healthcare journey, and experience a system designed around their individual needs. Rethinking outdated healthcare norms holds the key to unlocking this future. By embracing patient-centricity, we can build a healthcare system that works collaboratively with and for the patients it serves.


Bribery and corruption risks in the healthcare life science sector

Unlocking Potential: Putting patients at the heart of the NHS


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