In a recent survey, DSS asked consumers to give us their definition of an engaged health care consumer.  Although some of the least involved consumers struggled with the idea of defining an engaged consumer, most were up to the task.
Some of the most common terms used to describe an engaged consumer were:  research, active / involved, seek / seeking, doctor / physician, information, know or knowledge, regular / regularly, questions / questioning, ask / asking, and aware.
Four themes were each mentioned by at least 14% of respondents:

  • Research health conditions, treatments, medications or the latest trends in health care (37% mentioned)
  • Be active in the decision making for your personal health care (35%)
  • Ask providers questions and follow their advice (16%)
  • Visit a doctor regularly and participate in wellness visits (14%)

Some of the best individual comments are grouped into categories and listed below.
Straight forward descriptions:

  • Being aware of what is healthy and good for you in all aspects of your life.
  • Someone who seeks out the best of everything where their health is concerned.
  • Someone who knows what they have, what they need, and how to get it.

Describes the tasks of an engaged person:

  • A person who is aware of the type of medications they take and why.
  • Someone who knows if their preventative health care is up to date.
  • Someone who takes the effort to read labels on products and checks nutritional values.
  • Someone who looks up information of doctors, asks friends for referals, is aware of any issues with doctor practices, knows if the doctor takes certain insurances, calls the insurance company about coverage, and claims, etc.
  • Knows what health care costs; takes reponsibility for own health, takes maintenance medication precisely as directed, tries to minimize health care by preventative habits.
  • One who keeps up on the latest in health care, eats right, exercises and visits their doctor annually.

Personally involved in their own care:

  • Someone that is their own advocate for their health issues, you do the homework with all issues.
  • One that is involved in their own health care, keeps up on the latest innovations, researches conditions they are said to have and actively involves themselves in their own treatment of said conditions, and regularly visit their doctor and writes down in advance any questions they want to ask.
  • Someone who accepts responsibility for their health care; asking questions; participating in the decisions; seeking complete information; take a proactive stand.
  • Someone who actively informs themselves about health-related issues and acts on the knowledge gained to improve their health.

Works closely with their personal doctor:

  • Someone who keeps track of their health, understands what their doctors recommend, and takes their doctors’ advice.
  • Someone who puts effort into the doctor they chose and what kind of health benefits they receive.
  • Someone who researches any concerns and actively discusses issues with their providers.

Avoids reliance on doctors:

  • Someone who is pro-active and seeks information about their own care and does not rely on doctors to know what they are doing.
  • One that goes the extra mile to double check their doctor’s treatment, and advice.
  • Someone who doesn’t just do what the doctor says, but does the research and asks questions as to why a particular treatment, or non treatment is best.
  • Someone who actively researches doctors and treatments, who isn’t afraid to seek second opinions or ask for tests and treatments the doctor does not offer.

Cost and value considerations:

  • Someone who checks the cost for medical treatments, checks their bills for errors and also tries to stay healthy by doing the right things.
  • Someone that looks into health care to receive the best service at the best price.

Unrealistic expectations:

  • A person who knows about every medical condition a person could have and the pill for every ailment.
  • I believe that every American should be well informed of all charges being made by physicians and health care providers on behalf of each individual to help keep health care costs in line and to be an informed consumer.