Posts Tagged ‘healthcare literacy’

Why Hospitals and Healthcare Providers Should Focus on Patient Engagement and Activation

May 15, 2014

Patients who are actively engaged in their healthcare are more compliant in following physician instructions regarding their medications, diet, exercise levels, etc. This behavior typically leads to better outcomes and lower costs.

 Why is this important? Over 50% of patients fail to take their medication as directed because they have a hard time understanding instructions. Some patients lack the confidence to make decisions concerning their options or emotions cloud their ability to process information. Regardless of the reason, everyone benefits if patients are actively engaged and there is a focus from healthcare providers on educating patients and involving them more fully in making decisions about their care.

 In a recent TedMed online event regarding patient engagement (activation), the discussion revolved around how to inspire patients to participate in their healthcare. In 2004, Judith Hibbard and researchers from the University of Oregon developed a scale to measure how likely patients are to take a role in their own healthcare. It involves four stages:

  • believing that their role as a patient is important
  • having the confidence and knowledge necessary to take action
  • taking action to maintain and improve one’s health
  • maintaining these behaviors even under stress

 Some options found to increase active patient engagement include:

  • using a team-based approach so that patient self-management is consistent and reinforced by all team members
  • providing tailored coaching to patients based upon their level of activation
  • allocating different resources to different segments of patients so more help can be efficiently provided to those patients who are less able to manage their care
  • tracking progress so that patients can see their success

 Hibbards’ research and analysis found that patients with lower activation scores incurred costs from eight to 21 percent higher than those patients with higher activation scores. Since then, research indicates that people with a higher activation score are less likely to visit an emergency room, be obese or smoke, and more likely to save providers money.

Today, these outcomes – for both patients and providers – are crucial in our evolving healthcare environment.


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