The possibilities of personalisation in healthcare
- 29 March 2019
- Posted by: Helen Nicol
- Category: News
In the latest update from Nesta’s Good Help programme, Esther Flanagan addresses some of the lingering doubts over the possibility of personalising healthcare. Flanagan suggests that the central issue may actually be that of power — and the difficulty of relinquishing it from its institutional strongholds.
Power can be shifted by changing the conversation. For example, rather than focusing on symptoms and deficits (which turns professionals into experts and people into recipients), conversations should explore what is unique about a person – the way they experience a condition, what they are striving for with their health, and the influence of social and environmental stressors. If wider determinants of health are ignored, then interactions become oversimplified and will leave people feeling ‘done to’ and less committed to changing health behaviours.
Key to relinquishing power is the ability to ask questions rather than provide answers. This is tricky in a culture of ‘telling’, but asking a question (especially an open-ended one) automatically places power in the hands of the person answering – they hold information the other does not have. If health and care services genuinely value such information, they will be better understand individual motivations and circumstances, and together make choices based on what matters to each person.