Which Approaches Encourage Patients to Become More Engaged in Their Own Health Care?

Patients have the power to transform the health care system by demanding better care.

Yet studies show that many Americans are passive about their health care, and lack the knowledge or ability to manage it.

The more engaged patients are, the more likely they are to use information about quality to select a provider; seek and obtain preventive services such as health screenings and immunizations; adopt positive behaviors such as eating right, exercising, monitoring health conditions; and asking providers questions. For these reasons, many experts believe health care delivery systems should focus more on patients.

Increasing patient engagement involves patients choosing doctors, clinics and hospitals based on data-driven information about providers' ability to consistently deliver effective, high-quality care.

The 2010 Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to set national standards for collecting and reporting provider-performance data and to pilot interventions to support patient engagement.

This Health Policy Snapshot, published online in January 2012, explores ways to enhance patient engagement.

Read more from RWJF's Health Policy Snapshot series.