Informed Patients Get Better Results, Cost Less To Treat

Hospitals are not the easiest environment in which to ask questions. Many patients feel intimidated and allow themselves to be treated without truly understanding the care they receive. Given that thousands of people die every year due to medical mistakes, patients need to understand that it is acceptable, even necessary, to question their doctors about their care. A new study has now revealed that patients who take an active role in their care not only get better outcomes, they also cost less to treat than disengaged patients. Now doctors have a reason to encourage their patients to ask questions and gain the knowledge they need to make personal decisions about their treatment options.

The study analyzed the effect of “patient activation” on health care costs. Patients with low activation levels had average costs that were 8 percent higher in the first year than those with the highest activation levels. In the first half of the second year, that number jumped to 21 percent higher. Those numbers demonstrate that it is in a hospital’s interests to have patients play a larger role in their own care.

One facility indicated that patient education and engagement is beneficial because it improves patient compliance in following treatment guidelines. A patient who understands their care and who played an active role in formulating it is more likely to follow medication regimens and get timely diagnostic screenings. If a course of treatment is to be effective, it is important for the patient to fully understand and support it.

Doctors make mistakes. Asking questions is vital in ensuring the quality of your care. Patients may feel vulnerable, so loved ones can also help by taking an active role in ensuring that the care given is safe.

Source: Memphis Business Journal, “Better-informed patients could be cheaper,” by Cole Epley, 6 March 2013