Individuals with the motivation, knowledge, skills and confidence to manage their own health have better health outcomes and incur fewer health care costs.
A study led by Judith Hibbard, professor from University of Oregon, found that people with the lowest level of “activation”—that is, those with the least skills and confidence to actively engage in their health care—spent 8 percent to 21 percent higher than patients with the highest level of activation.
The study compared patients who were ill and measured their skills and knowledge using the Pateint Activation measure.
If we are more engaged with our health and its care, our health care costs will be lower. Hibbard says, “We found that patients who were more knowledgeable, skilled and confident about managing their day-to-day health and health care — also called patient activation — had health care costs that were substantially lower than patients who lacked this type of confidence and skill.”
Hibbard and her team found this to be true after accounting for differences such as demographic factors, severity of illnesses age, sex and income. Even among patients with the same chronic illness, they found those who were more “activated” had lower overall health care costs than patients who were less so.
The researchers recommend that health delivery systems consider assessing these patient activation scores and supporting patients to become more engaged in their health and health care, as a way to both improve patient outcomes and lower costs.