Patient Involvement Lowers Health Costs, Study Says

TUESDAY Feb. 5, 2013 -- Patients who take an active role in their health care have lower medical costs, according to a new study.

Researchers analyzed data from about 33,000 patients in Minnesota and found that the average health care costs of those with the highest levels of motivation, knowledge, skills and confidence to manage their own health care were 8 percent to 21 percent lower than those with the lowest levels.

"The study highlights the important role that patients play in determining outcomes," study leader Judith Hibbard, a professor emerita in the planning, public policy and management department at the University of Oregon, said in a university news release.

"We found that patients who were more knowledgeable, skilled and confident about managing their day-to-day health and health care -- also called patient activation -- had health care costs that were substantially lower than patients who lacked this type of confidence and skill," she explained.

The findings appear in the February issue of the journal Health Affairs.

Even among patients with the same type of chronic illness, those who were more "activated" had lower health care costs than those who were less activated.

Health care systems should consider assessing patients' levels of involvement and motivation, and support patients who wish to become more engaged in their health and health care, as a way to improve patient health and lower costs, the researchers said.

More information

The U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality explains how patients can be more involved in their health care.

Posted: February 2013


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