The importance of the patient’s perspective
Inappropriate care is the scourge of efficient and effective health services. The way in which health care can be delivered more appropriately appears to be an intractable problem for many health systems. The extent to which care is appropriate or inappropriate, however, is determined by the perspective of the patient receiving the care. In the final analysis, “help” can only be defined by the recipient of the help, not the provider of the help. Ultimately, health care entails supporting individuals to achieve the necessary physical and psychological states to realise the goals they have for themselves and the lives they would like to live. This chapter extends the ideas raised in the previous chapter by considering some of the consequences of not accommodating patients’ perspectives in treatment decisions. Missed appointments and not taking medication as prescribed are two very common examples of the divergence of perspective between the treating health professional and the treated patient. Both missing appointments and not taking medications as prescribed are costly to the health service as well as to the individual. Empirical evidence is presented that demonstrates the extent to which health professionals’ judgements can differ from patients’ judgements.