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The Patient Activation Measure® and ACOs

June 17, 2015

The Patient Activation Measure® and ACOs

This week, Dr. Judith Hibbard is speaking about patient activation at the sixth annual Accountable Care Organization Summit in Washington, DC. Accountable Care Organizations, or ACOs as they’re commonly known are relatively new in the health care field and have the potential to reform the healthcare industry.

According to the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, the US health care system is the most costly in the world, accounting for 17% of the GDP. It is estimated that percentage will grow to nearly 20% by 2020.At the same time, countries with health systems that outperform the US are also under pressure to provide more value from resources within their health care systems. Across the board, aging populations and increased longevity coupled with chronic health issues have complicated the future of health care.[1]

An ACO is a network of health care entities that share responsibility for addressing those demands by providing care to a large group of patients. All providers within the ACO are jointly accountable for the health of all patients.This gives those within the ACO stronger incentives to cooperate and save money by avoiding unnecessary tests and procedures or by meeting specific quality metrics (such as preventing hospital readmissions within thirty days of the patient’s previous stay).

The Patient Activation Measure® or PAM® from Insignia Health helps ACOs achieve their goals in the following ways:


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  1. Improve the health of populations

The Patient Activation Measure helps providers see where their patients fall within four different levels of activation.Activation level is used to give providers and health coaches the insight needed into a patient’s motivations and obstacles. In particular, lower-activated patients see the greatest gains as they increase levels and become less overwhelmed, more confident and better able to build crucial self-management skills.


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Research studies have confirmed that PAM is a contributing factor to helping patients manage a number of chronic conditions including COPD, asthma, depression and diabetes.

2. Improving the experience of the individual

Higher-activated patients are typically better participants in their healthcare. As patients become more activated – even by a single point in PAM score — they begin to see providers and health coaches more as a team members in their health care instead of as top-down managers. More participation leads to higher confidence and by extension, increased satisfaction in their health care experience.


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Lower activated patient struggle in their interactions with providers.

3. Improving affordability / reducing costs

PAM enables ACOs to avoid penalties related to performance measures by directing low-activated patients to high-touch resources.By targeting the most in-need patients, ACOs can to make better use of existing resources and increase activation and health self-management from patients who are typically the highest utilizers of costly services. Together, these combine to give the best possible scenario: better patient care combined with significant cost savings.


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To learn more about PAM and how it can increase activation and improve outcomes, visit our website.


[1] National Healthcare Expenditure Projections, 2010-2020, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Office of the Actuary.