Increasing Consumer Engagement
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) is working with targeted communities and national organizations to help patients and consumers better understand, demand and choose quality health care. This principle—that care needs to improve in ways that truly matter to patients and consumers—has become a central part of all of RWJF's work to address quality.
While there is widespread theoretical agreement that patients and consumers can become more engaged in demanding better health care, there is little practical experience in how to engage diverse consumer groups within entire communities. Aligning Forces for Quality (AF4Q) is working to do just that. One of the underlying hypotheses of AF4Q is that more readily available and understandable information about the quality and cost of health care can help different stakeholders—including consumers and patients—learn what it takes to achieve good health care and make better choices. A successful consumer engagement strategy will help consumers:
- Understand their risks or actual conditions, and take actions to manage them.
- Understand and make informed treatment choices.
- Understand the difference between good care and bad care, and demand good care.
- Advocate for public reporting by hospitals and doctors on nationally-recognized indicators of quality care.
- Choose providers based on information about their ability to deliver effective care.
The goal of consumer engagement is not to set up a "consumer-versus-provider" dynamic. The goal is to help all stakeholders—consumers, patients, providers, health plans, employers—understand how better information can improve the quality of care. Consumers must take an active, engaged role to improve the quality of health care in their communities. AF4Q includes a broad range of community-based activities designed to get consumers to take an active role in their own care and make informed choices, from understanding their own conditions and available treatments, to making decisions based on information about the performance of health care providers.