A recent Commonwealth Fund study found that patients who were more involved in their healthcare had a more positive experience of their care and reported fewer errors.
The study draws its information from the 2011 Commonwealth Fund Survey, which included more than 18,000 adults with complex health issues in 11 countries. Its results confirm the benefit of patients taking a more active role in their own health care, for example, through improved understanding of their treatment options and shared decision making.
The level of consumer engagement in each country was assessed from analysing responses about whether the doctor spent enough time with patients, explains things in a way that is easy to understand, and encourages questions.
Key findings included:
The study noted that all countries could make improvements in consumer engagement. However the UK and Switzerland stood out as having achieved the most in this area and concluded that their high performance was due in part to their having the highest share of patients with ‘medical homes’ – primary care providers who know their patients’ histories and co-ordinate overall care.
The study concluded that patients who are engaged in their own health care receive higher-quality care, experience fewer medical errors, and have more positive views of the health system.
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