Improving Quality and Reducing Costs in Health Care: Engaging Consumers Using Electronic Tools

Monday, December 10, 2012

Engaging consumers more fully in their own health and health care not only improves the experience of care for patients and their families, it also improves the quality and cost- effectiveness of care.

The use of online, electronic, and mobile tools—which plays such a predominant role in all other aspects of American life—has the potential to enhance and accelerate consumer engagement strategies employed by a broad range of health care organizations, including clinicians, employers, health plans, hospitals, and other providers.

The Bipartisan Policy Center’s report, Improving Quality and Reducing Costs in Health Care: Engaging Consumers Using Electronic Tools, includes findings and recommendations for accelerating the use of online, mobile and other electronic tools among individuals to improve health and health care in the U.S.

The report summarizes the critical role that patient engagement plays in improving cost and quality outcomes and the experience of care, and how the use of electronic tools can significantly expand and improve upon current patient engagement strategies to achieve better outcomes. Barriers to adoption and strategies for addressing those barriers, are also included in the report.

Electronic tools that support engagement of consumers in their health and health care ordinarily fall into two primary categories: those that support consumer education and self-care and those that help individuals interact with the health care system.

In order to more actively engage consumers via electronic tools, the BPC recommends the following:

  1. Build awareness of benefits of electronic tools for patient engagement among clinicians, hospitals and other providers;
  2. Develop and disseminate principles, standards, policies, strategies, and best practices for using electronic tools to support engagement of patients;
  3. Build awareness of benefits of health care-related electronic tools among consumers; and
  4. Increase federal, state and private sector incentives for the use of electronic tools to support engagement of patients in their health and health care.

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