New Study Confirms People More Activated in Their Care Have Better Health Outcomes and Lower Costs

Higher activation levels over two-year period shows nine of 13 better health outcomes

New Study Confirms People More Activated in Their Care Have Better Health Outcomes and Lower Costs

<0> Gordon and Betty Moore FoundationStacey Bailey, 650-213-3023 </0>

Today, an important question about the value of patient activation was answered in a new study published in the March issue of Health Affairs: Can increases in patient activation improve health outcomes and lower costs? Yes, according to the authors of the largest, longitudinal investigation to date. Researchers from the School of Nursing at the George Washington University, University of Oregon and Fairview Medical Group assessed the relationship between changes in a person’s activation level and changes in health outcomes and cost and found they were associated.

“The Patient Activation Measure study is important for two reasons. First, it is the largest, longitudinal study to look at the impact of an individual’s activation levels on both health outcomes and cost; and second, the findings show that activation levels are related to clinical, behavioral and utilization outcomes as well as health care costs,” said Valerie Overton, CNP, RN, vice president for quality and innovation at the Fairview Medical Group.

Conducted at Fairview Health Services, a large non-profit health care system in Minnesota, researchers examined activation levels of more than 32,000 adult patients using the Patient Activation Measure™ score, a metric used to quantify a person’s knowledge, skills and confidence in managing one’s own health and health care. The two-year study found that higher baseline activation levels were predictive of better health outcomes in nine of 13 health indicators, including maintaining high-density lipoprotein and serum triglycerides in a normal range – important clinical outcomes associated with diabetes and heart disease. Additionally, more activated patients had a greater likelihood to obtain potentially life-saving screening tests such as pap smears and mammography as well as avoid a hospitalization or emergency department visit two years after their Patient Activation Measure level was collected.

“For accountable care organizations and other delivery systems looking to reduce costs and improve the health of those they care for, this study suggests that patient activation can be a critical pathway to achieving these goals,” said Judith Hibbard, DrPH, professor emerita and senior researcher, Health Policy Research Group at the University of Oregon and developer of the Patient Activation Measure. “The greater the activation level, the greater the odds of better outcomes and lower costs,” she added.

The Patient Activation Measure is categorized into four levels with level one being the least engaged and four being the highest. Patients in the study were primarily female, with approximately four out of five in the top two levels of activation. Key findings include:

This study was funded by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. The full abstract can be accessed today, Monday, March 2 at 4:00 p.m. ET at Health Affairs: .

The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation believes in ideas that create enduring impact in the areas of science, environmental conservation and patient care. Intel co-founder Gordon and his wife Betty established the foundation to create positive change around the world and at home in the San Francisco Bay Area. Visit or follow @MooreFound.