Who doesn’t want the best for themselves and their loved ones? If you care about your health, then becoming “engaged” or “connected” with your healthcare providers will result in better health, even if you have a chronic disease like diabetes, gout, or heart disease. Studies measuring this engagement or “Patient Activation” have shown that you will have healthier behaviors, better clinical tests like LDL and glucose values, lower body weight, and will be less likely to smoke if you are involved and engaged in your own healthcare. What does higher patient activation look like?
- Have a regular source of care
- Get recommended preventative care
- Don’t delay getting care when needed
- Ask questions when they see healthcare team members
- Actively look for health information
- Are educated about treatment options and approaches for their condition
A new study indicates that patient activation is changeable and that patients may become more or less activated at different times.* A very interesting point of this study is that if a patient’s activation level drops, their health suffers and healthcare costs go up! Less activated patients in this study were more likely to use emergency departments and/or be hospitalized.
What can you do?
- Learn as much as you can about your condition
- Share your concerns and preferences with your healthcare team, and share in all decisions about your treatment or testing
- Communicate with your healthcare team
- Know what action to take when you leave your health team’s office
*Greene and Hibbard et al. Health Affairs March 30, 2015