The Elusive Health Care Consumer: What Will It Take to Activate Patients?

October 01, 2007

The Elusive Health Care Consumer: What Will It Take to Activate Patients?

In February 2007, AcademyHealth conducted a meeting on behalf of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to examine the role of consumer engagement in improving the quality of health care. In preparation for this meeting, five papers were commissioned on the following subjects: consumer activation, consumer choice of health plan and provider, consumer choice of treatment, patient navigation, and the appropriate role for consumers. This issue brief is based on the consumer activation paper, which was authored by Judith H. Hibbard, Dr.P.H.  

Why Activate Consumers?  

With health care costs rising, stakeholders such as employers and health care payers are looking for ways to reduce their costs. Over the past several years, increased consumer responsibility has been promoted as a step toward cost containment, because it is believed that consumers are fundamental to transforming the current health system into one that is more efficient. Consumers today are expected to select high-performing providers and health plans, work with their providers to ensure safe and effective treatments, embark on and maintain healthy behaviors, and manage their conditions. Many employers are urging their employees to become more involved in their health care by offering them high-deductible health plans, which are also referred to as consumer-directed health plans.  

Read the full study.