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Increasing Patient Activation Tied to Lower Health Care Costs

Having a higher score on the Patient Activation Measure linked to improved outcomes, lower costs

MONDAY, Feb. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Patient activation is associated with improved outcomes and lower health care costs, according to a review published in the February issue of Health Affairs.

Judith H. Hibbard, M.P.H., Dr.P.H., of the University of Oregon in Eugene, and Jessica Greene, Ph.D., of the George Washington University School of Nursing in Washington, D.C., reviewed studies that measured patient activation using the Patient Activation Measure which links the level of activation with health outcomes, costs, and patients' experience of care. Patients were classified into four levels of activation based on response to statements about beliefs, confidence in managing health-related tasks, and self-assessed knowledge.

The researchers found that patients who scored higher on the Patient Activation Measure were more likely to engage in preventive behavior, engage in healthy behavior such as eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise, and avoid health-damaging behavior. Interventions have been found to be successful for increasing activation levels. After adjustment for disease severity and demographic characteristics, highly activated patients had lower rates of costly health care utilization, including hospitalization and emergency department visits, compared with less activated patients. Patient Activation Measure scores were found to predict the same year's and following year's billed costs of care, with the costs significantly higher for less activated patients.

"The emerging evidence suggests a potentially new quality goal: increasing patient activation as an intermediate outcome of care that is measurable and linked with improved outcomes," the authors write.

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