This site is intended for health professionals only

'Patient activation' key to cutting inequalities

'Patient activation' key to cutting inequalities


Improving patient activation levels could reduce health inequalities, improve care and lower costs, a report from The King’s Fund has claimed. 

‘Patient activation’ describes the knowledge, skills and confidence a person has in managing their own healthcare. 

Recent studies have shown that between 25-40% of people in the UK have low levels of activation. And 10% of people with long-term conditions also have low levels. This means they are more likely to: 

 - Feel overwhelmed with the task of managing their health.

 - Have little confidence in their ability to have a positive impact on their health.

 - Have had substantial experience of failing to manage their health, and have become passive in managing their health.

Patients with low activation cost 8% more in the baseline year, and are 21% more expensive than patients with higher activation in the following year. 

They are also more likely to attend A&E units, to be hospitalised and to be re-admitted after being discharged. 

Research shows that appropriately designed interventions can increase patients’ levels of activation, with associated health benefits. 

The paper explores how this is being achieved in practice and offers recommendations for extending early use of the PAM in the United Kingdom.

Luke O’Shea, NHS England’s head of patient participation said: “NHS settings around the country are missing a vital sign. It’s something called patient activation – a measure of a person’s skills, confidence and knowledge to manage their own health. It’s simple to find out, like measuring blood pressure, and is scored from one to four. And it turns out to be really rather important.

“More activated people are healthier; they manage their conditions better; optimise their medication; they use health services less and are even able to work more. Internationally, due to the growing weight of evidence that lies behind it, patient activation is being hailed by some as the “blockbuster of the century.” 

The King’s Fund report reads: “Patient activation is a powerful mechanism for tackling health inequalities. Used in population segmentation and risk stratification, it provides new insights into risk that go beyond those obtained using traditional socio-demographic factors. 

“Patient activation provides a unique measure of engagement and empowerment  that can be used to evaluate the effectiveness of interventions and to measure the performance of health care organisations in involving patients in their own care.”

The report is available to view on The King’s Fund website


Ads by Google