Consider this: 195,000 people die each year from preventable medical errors. But, studies show clear and open communication between patients and their physicians can go a long way toward reducing the number of medical mistakes.
National Patient Safety Awareness Week is taking place from March 7th to the 13th. This year’s theme is all about healthy communication between patients and their physicians. The simple theme Let’s Talk: Healthy Conversations for Safer Healthcare is aimed at helping people become more involved in their own health care.
So, how can consumers get proactive about their health? The number one way is by becoming more informed about their health and being a part of every decision that’s made about their health care. The following tips provide simple ways to open up the lines of communication with physicians, leading to better quality, safer health care. Read on for more tips:
- What is the medicine for?
- How am I supposed to take it and for how long?
- What side effects are likely? What do I do if they occur?
- Is this medicine safe to take with other medicines or dietary supplements I am taking?
- What food, drink, or activities should I avoid while taking this medicine?
To read more tips for preventing medical errors, visit: http://www.ahrq.gov/CONSUMER/20tips.htm.
For more information about National Patient Safety Awareness Week, visit http://www.npsf.org/hp/psaw/.
Aetna Study Shows PHR Usage Connected to Safer, Higher Quality Health Care
A study of consumers who actively use a PHR underscores the fact that people who are involved in their own health care see better results.
Aetna’s PHR contains information gathered from across the health care spectrum – such as physician offices, labs, diagnostic treatments and pharmacies. That information is combined with user-entered information such as family health history, over-the-counter medications or allergies. All of this information is continuously scanned by patented technology called the CareEngine to identify potential gaps in care. Members can access their information and share it with their physicians through Aetna’s secure member website.
The Aetna study looked at people who used their PHR at least four times and found that PHR users:
- Received 57 percent more Care Considerations, which are alerts sent to members and physicians when the CareEngine identifies a gap in care, compared to non PHR users; and
- Resolved 68 percent more Care Considerations than non PHR users.
The study also found that Care Considerations generated by self-reported information are six times higher for PHR users compared to the non-user group. This shows that members who use their PHR are receiving more information about the ways they can work with their physicians to improve their health.
Did you know?
- Approximately 1.3 million people are injured annually in the United States following so-called "medication errors." (Health Grades, 2004)
- The Institute of Medicine estimates that medical errors cost the U.S. approximately $37.6 billion each year and about $17 billion of those costs are associated with preventable errors.
- The RAND Institute estimates that health information technology could save the U.S. health care system approximately $100 billion over 10 years by digitizing patient health records and housing them in a central online location.
Three Ways a PHR Fosters Safer, Higher Quality Health Care
1.) More information leads to better care. Not only does the PHR have members’ claims data automatically loaded into it, but members can also add information such as family history, over-the-counter medicines and allergies. This health information is available to members online. Members have the option of sharing it with their physicians leading to more productive visits at the doctors’ office.