RWJFPatients who are actively involved in their own health care are more likely to successfully maintain their health, and people who lack the skills needed to manage their care incur costs up to 21 percent higher than their engaged counterparts, according to an issue brief recently released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation regarding discoveries made through the organization’s Aligning Forces for Quality (AF4Q) initiative.

The AF4Q endeavor is confirming the potential impact of patient engagement as it is implemented in 16 communities across the United States to improve the overall quality of healthcare. Some of the essential skills that clinicians are working to help patients master include asking questions and knowing more about the medications they are using or have used in the past. In addition, clinicians have found success in convincing patients to bring someone with them to doctors’ visits with 47 percent of participants following suit.

In general, researchers have found that patients are empowered when they have opportunities to collaborate with other patients and when they are able to become involved in broader quality improvement efforts. The program utilizes a three-level framework for patient and family engagement designed to involve individuals at a level best suited to their skill sets. Level 1 patients focus on managing their own health, and Level 2 patients provide feedback for improvements that can be made at clinician offices. Level 3 participants are invited to play an active role in health education activities within the greater community.

To learn more and read the brief in full, click here.