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The relationship between patient self-management and health care costs

October 29, 2018

The relationship between patient self-management and health care costs

SCOPE interviewed researcher, Ann Lindsay, about a recent Stanford-led study that examines whether an alternate measure — the Patient Activation Measure — can potentially serve as an early indicator that an effort is moving the needle on health care costs.

What does this study address?

Our research involved a program that was trying to increase activation for high-risk patients — increase their ability to manage their health. The program used the Patient Activation Measure, a simple survey that helps a provider judge how ready and able someone is to take control of their health care.

The program was successful in that 35 percent of the patients increased their Patient Activation Measure significantly. That in itself is very valuable for patients.

Our study tracked people’s activation levels and their Medicare claims reported by the program over a period of six months. The results showed a clear correlation between the two: when the activation measure went up, total cost of care went down.

What did your study show about the relationship between patient activation and health costs?

In our study, if a patient’s PAM level increased one level, that was associated with 8 percent lower costs. For folks who improved two PAM levels, there was a 15 percent reduction in cost. When the PAM declined, the cost rose 9 percent for each level.

In dollars, the average health care cost for people who remained at PAM level one was $12,700 a year, compared to $9,500 for people at PAM level 4. So, it’s significant. It can add up.

Read the full interview