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When Seeing The Same Physician Highly Activated Patients Have Better Care Experiences Than Less Activated Patients

Author: Jessica Greene, Judith H. Hibbard, Rebecca Sacks, Valerie Overton
$15.00

Measures of the patient care experience are now routinely used in public reports and increasingly influence health provider payment. We examined data from 5,002 patients of forty-nine primary care providers to explore the relationship between patient activation—a term referring to the knowledge, skills, and confidence a patient has for managing his or her health care—and the patient care experience. We found that patients at higher levels of activation had more positive experiences than patients at lower levels seeing the same clinician. The observed differential was maintained when we controlled for demographic characteristics and health status. We did not find evidence that patients at higher levels of activation selected providers who were more patient-centric. The findings suggest that the care experience is transactional, shaped by both providers and patients. Strategies to improve the patient experience, therefore, should focus not only on providers but also on improving patients’ ability to elicit what they need from their providers.

Measures of the patient care experience are now routinely used in public reports and increasingly influence health provider payment. We examined data from 5,002 patients of forty-nine primary care providers to explore the relationship between patient activation—a term referring to the knowledge, skills, and confidence a patient has for managing his or her health care—and the patient care experience. We found that patients at higher levels of activation had more positive experiences than patients at lower levels seeing the same clinician. The observed differential was maintained when we controlled for demographic characteristics and health status. We did not find evidence that patients at higher levels of activation selected providers who were more patient-centric. The findings suggest that the care experience is transactional, shaped by both providers and patients. Strategies to improve the patient experience, therefore, should focus not only on providers but also on improving patients’ ability to elicit what they need from their providers.

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