Who doesn’t want to keep health care costs down? It’s not just prudent, but increasingly a necessity in these tight economic times. And when there’s a way to lower costs without a big initial investment, all the better. That’s exactly what University of Oregon researchers say they have found with the idea of “patient activation.”
Patient activation is all about giving patients the skills and confidence to be actively engaged in their own health care, explains Judith Hibbard, Dr.P.H. at University of Oregon’s Department of Planning, Public Policy & Management in this month’s issue of Health Affairs. Dr. Hibbard and her colleagues took a look at 33,000 patients, paying particular attention to health care costs and “patient activation,” a metric measured by levels of motivation, knowledge, skills, and confidence.
This study measured patient activation with a questionnaire of beliefs, knowledge, and confidence related to the management of health tasks. Scores on this questionnaire predicted health care costs, even when differences in age, gender, income, and the severity of a patient’s disease were taken into account.
Health care costs of those with the greatest level of patient activation were 8-21 percent lower compared to patients with the lowest levels of motivation, knowledge, skills, and confidence. Better patient activation also equates to better health outcomes. Even when Dr. Hibbard looked at sub-sets of patients with the same chronic illness, the pattern held true: those who were more actively engaged saw lower health care costs.
Here at BioPlus we know that patients play a real and powerful role in their own health outcomes. This is why we partner with our patients every day. We engage each patient as an active participant in the treatment process, providing counseling about drug therapy management, clinical monitoring, tips to stay adherent, patient education about adverse reactions, and drug utilization reviews for all of our patients.
We track ourselves to confirm that our methods are working. For example, in a recent one-month analysis of 3,124 BioPlus patients (including oncology, hepatitis C, multiple sclerosis, and those treated with Ig therapy), medication compliance reached 97.3 percent.
Engaged patients are more likely to stay compliant with a medication plan. BioPlus patients benefit from this with better outcomes and payers benefit with lower costs. It’s the win-win our business model is based on.
Sources: Hibbard JH, Greene J. What the evidence shows about patient activation: Better health outcomes and care experiences; fewer data on costs. Health Aff 2013;32(2):207-14.