Dr. Ralph Fillingame was fed up. The family physician's aging patients had complex healthcare needs, including multiple chronic illnesses such as hypertension and diabetes, but progress in managing those illnesses was slow.
Some patients at the Santa Clara PeaceHealth Medical Group clinic, in Eugene, Ore., part of Vancouver, Wash.-based PeaceHealth, seemed unable or unwilling to take an active role in their own care.
“I realized it didn't matter how accurate the diagnoses were or how good the medications were,” he said. “If the patient was not confident enough or willing to carry out those interventions themselves, we were just fooling ourselves.”
Studies have demonstrated the critical role that patient engagement plays in medication adherence, healthy eating and other components of disease management. “These patients see a doctor once in a while, but they live with their chronic diseases 24/7,” Fillingame said.
Some hospitals and health systems are using the Patient Activation Measure, or PAM, as a tool to help predict which patients are best equipped to engage in their care and which ones will be in need of additional support.