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Access, Participation in Healthcare Decision-Making and Policy Impact - What Patients Really Want.

GENEVA, Switzerland, August 30 /PRNewswire/ --

- Timely Access to Best Treatments and Information, Participation in Decisions at the Individual and Policy Level - New Study Reveals Top Priorities and Concerns of Patients Across Europe, Canada and Beyond

The International Alliance of Patients' Organizations (IAPO) today released the results of a new survey on perceptions of healthcare among patients' organisation members in 10 EU Member States, Canada and Nigeria demonstrate strongly shared views on the needs and concerns of members related to currently administered healthcare and signal a need for a shift to a more patient-centred approach. The findings were presented today by IAPO at the international conference "Geneva Forum: Towards global access to health[1]".

IAPO's Policy and External Affairs Director Jo Harkness who presented the survey results in Geneva said: "Patient-centred healthcare, whereby systems are specifically designed to address the needs and preferences of patients, may be the most cost-effective and appropriate way to improve health outcomes for patients around the world. Concerted actions to develop and implement measures that reflect this approach are crucial. IAPO calls for the support and collaboration of government, healthcare policy decision makers, industry and physicians' organisations to take a proactive stance".

The study randomly polled 1200 members of patients' organisations in 12 countries. It identified three recurring themes in the findings across the different regions that illustrate shared concerns related to the accessibility of individualised treatment and healthcare information.

Timely access to the best treatment and information

Timely access to the best medicines and information is one of the primary concerns of patients and patients' organisations. 98% of respondents agree that "because timing is so important in the prevention of disease, access to the most effective medicines when you need them most is essential". The same percentage agrees on the need for greater access to accurate, relevant and comprehensive information to help patients and healthcare providers make informed decisions.

Right to participate in decisions at the individual patient level

The findings also show that 95% of members of patients' organisations demand a right to participate as partners in making healthcare decisions which affect their lives. The same proportion of members agrees that patients have a fundamental right to patient-centred healthcare that respects their individual needs, preferences and values. They think that unburdening bureaucratic restrictions on physicians would allow for a stronger physician-patient relationship and result in the best treatment for each individual. 89% of them argue that assuming a "one size fits all" attitude to medicines is wrong, since patients react differently to medications depending on many factors, including their health status, age, and physical make up - doctors are trained to assess all these factors and make the best decision for each individual patient.

Patient involvement in policy-making

A third and increasingly important trend the study indicates is a strong belief in increasing the involvement of patients as partners in shaping healthcare policy decisions that affect their lives. Whether this occurs through direct involvement in government-led legislative procedures and consultations or through third parties such as patients' organisations, the vast majority support the engagement of patients in healthcare policy decision-making to ensure that policies reflect patient and caregiver needs. In fact, 95% of members believe that governments should more actively take into account the views of doctor and patient organisations - including 62% who firmly stand on this position.

"What these findings demonstrate is the pressing need to align local healthcare systems better with patient needs and expectations to the benefit of both, leading to the most cost-effective disease prevention and care for each unique person," concluded Jo Harkness.

Notes to Editors:

About the study:

A summary of the study on perceptions of healthcare among patient organisations is available on the IAPO website ( www.patientsorganizations.org). See also the Survey Results Fact Sheet and Methodology, available on the website and by request to the media contact below.

The study was undertaken by Consensus Research Group (www.consensus-research.com) in April and May 2006 among 1200 members of patients' organisations in 12 countries and supported by Pfizer (www.pfizer.com).

* UK, Germany, France, Hungary, Austria, Czech Republic, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Sweden, Canada, Nigeria

About the International Alliance of Patients' Organizations:

The International Alliance of Patients' Organizations (IAPO) is a unique global alliance representing patients of all nationalities across all disease areas and promoting patient-centred healthcare around the world. Our full members are patients' organisations working at the international, regional, national and local levels to represent and support patients, their families and carers. IAPO's vision is that patients throughout the world are at the centre of healthcare.

About Pfizer:

Pfizer Inc. supported the study. Pfizer is dedicated to better health and greater access to healthcare. Our purpose is helping people live longer, healthier, happier lives. Our route to that purpose is through discovering and developing breakthrough medicines; providing information on prevention, wellness, and treatment; consistent high-quality manufacturing of medicines, and consumer products; and global leadership in corporate responsibility. Every day we help 38 million patients, employ more than 100,000 colleagues, utilise the skills of more than 12,000 medical researchers, and work in partnership with physicians, governments, payers, patient organisations, individuals and other partners for healthcare to treat and prevent illnesses - adding both years to life, and life to years.

[1] http://www.hcuge.ch/genevahealthforum - organised jointly by the Geneva University Hospitals and the Medicine School of the University of Geneva

For further information about IAPO or to contact Jo Harkness, please contact: Olivia Lawe-Davies, Burson-Marsteller/BKSH, Mobile: +32-486-36-33-90, Email: olivia_lawe-davies@be.bm.com
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Date:Aug 30, 2006
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