December 2013 | The Consumer Perspective
Monday, December 16, 2013
Patients—The Most Underutilized Resource

“Patients are the most underutilized resource” in the U.S. health system. -Dr. Charles Safran

AF4Q knows that patients are at the heart of health care. That’s why AF4Q communities put patients’ needs center stage and are working to better engage patients in their own care and in broader quality improvement efforts.

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Empowering Partnerships

The Aligning Forces for Quality initiative in Greater Boston, led by Massachusetts Health Quality Partners (MHQP), collaborated with Consumer Reports in 2013 to provide consumers with reliable and useful information about primary care physicians. Together, MHQP and Consumer Reports released patient experience ratings of nearly 500 primary care physician practices in Massachusetts. Twenty-six percent of readers who took the survey responded that they felt better prepared for their next doctor visits.

Meanwhile, results from the more than 230,000 patient-completed Clinician and Group Surveys–Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems are now available for consumers to access in Minnesota. “Patients are going to get better experience and service because of this survey,” said David Satin, MD, who sits on the measurement and reporting committee of MN Community Measurement, leader of the Aligning Forces for Quality initiative in the state. Research shows that good patient experience has a positive relationship to other aspects of health care quality, including patients’ adherence to providers’ instructions and outcomes. Although a patient’s choice of physician is deeply personal, this survey information can play a role in decision-making.

Changing the World Eight People at a Time

“In my life, this is the most meaningful thing that I do—changing the world eight people at a time. It’s a small group, but a small group of people who have had a hard time with their health. They begin to see themselves in a different light and their disease in a different light,” said Marion Love.

Love is referring to her work as a leader of the Our Pathways to Health program. Our Pathways to Health is a free, chronic disease self-management initiative coordinated by the Aligning Forces Humboldt, led by the California Center for Rural Policy (CCRP). The program features a six-week workshop for patients with chronic conditions, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, chronic pain, or heart conditions. More than 850 participants have graduated from 115 workshops, given in both English and Spanish, since the program’s inception in September 2008. Reports show that alumni of the program are hospitalized less, seek fewer doctor appointments, and save a reported $4 for every $1 they spend in health care.

The Alliance plans to continue to sustain and develop the program by broadening its reach to more cities and communities. Our Pathways to Health Humboldt County is a pillar of consumer engagement, having the highest participation rate per capita in the state of California, according to the Partners in Care Foundation in 2010.

Aligning Forces for Quality (AF4Q) is the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s (RWJF) signature effort to lift the overall quality of health care in targeted communities, reduce racial and ethnic disparities in health care and provide models for national reform. Alliance teams represent the people who get care, give care, and pay for care.
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