A new Health Policy Brief summarizes the key findings in the field of patient engagement and draws on the February 2013 issue of Health Affairs, entitled “New Era Of Patient Engagement.”

A growing body of evidence demonstrates that patients who are more actively involved in their health care have better outcomes and incur lower medical costs. This finding is motivating health care organizations to better inform patients about their conditions and care choices, so they can be more fully involved in maintaining their health and making decisions about their care.

Topics covered in this brief include:

What’s the issue? The brief describes what patient engagement and patient activation are and why they matter. It also describes various components of patient engagement, such as shared decision making.

Policy implications. The Affordable Care Act identifies patient engagement as an integral component of quality, and is reflected in several sections of that law.

What’s next? There is wide agreement among experts that more research is needed to identify best practices and demonstrate more definitively the links between patient engagement and cost savings. There are also many barriers to patient engagement that need to be address, such as insufficient provider training, lack of incentives, time constraints, and better measurement tools.

About Health Policy Briefs

Health Policy Briefs are produced by Health Affairs with ongoing support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. This policy brief on patient engagement is also supported by a grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

The Briefs are aimed at policy makers, congressional staffers, and others who need short, jargon-free explanations of health policy basics. The Briefs, which are reviewed by experts in the field, include competing arguments on policy proposals and the relevant research supporting each perspective.

Sign up for e-mail alerts about upcoming briefs. The briefs are also available from RWJF’s Web site. Please feel free to forward to any of your colleagues who are tracking health issues. And after you’ve taken a look, we would welcome your feedback at hpbrief@healthaffairs.org.