Patient Design: The Importance of Including Patients in Designing Health Care

J Med Internet Res. 2022 Aug 31;24(8):e39178. doi: 10.2196/39178.


A paradigm shift is underway in the patient-clinician relationship, driven by irreversible changes in information access, yet the model under which clinicians are trained, care is conducted, and care delivery is designed has not changed significantly even though we call it "patient centered." Humanity endured centuries in which even doctors had little idea what the patient's problem really was. Science slowly solved that, and for a century, only doctors could know what was worth knowing. Today, the rise of the internet and digital health has led to the end of that era. We are already witnessing early signs of the era of participatory health: genuinely empowered people living their lives and managing their health according to their own priorities, in partnership and consultation with physicians as needed. This may feel like a threat to the physician's sacred role, but it is no more so than when physicians adopted informed consent and then shared decision-making. In the 2010s, many pharmaceutical, medical, and health care companies started to use patient centricity as a mantra. We argue that to drive this paradigm change fully into existence, we need to shift "patient centricity" from a relatively passive process, driven by industry needs, into a far more active, collaborative process driven by both parties' needs and preferences. To build this new world of practice and workflow, we simply must engage with patients as true partners. To achieve medicine's new potential, it must be optimized around the wants and priorities of the ultimate stakeholder-the party that has the most at stake in how it all plays out: the patient. Patient design is the approach that can make it happen.

Keywords: digital health; empowerment; engagement; future; involvement; participation; participatory; patient; patient centered; patient centred; patient centric; patient design; patient focus; user design.

MeSH terms

  • Delivery of Health Care*
  • Humans
  • Informed Consent
  • Physicians*