Handwritten "health is wealth"

Being an informed consumer is essential to promoting and achieving positive health outcomes. This knowledge can range from finding a quality provider, where to seek care, ways to reduce harm and affordability of care. Individuals that are our most vulnerable (uninsured, non-English speakers, those struggling with poverty and older adults) are at a higher risk for lower quality care because they often lack the necessary information to make informed choices.

New research uncovers the challenges of the knowledge gap and how it affects access to quality care.The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has launched Right Place, Right Time, a special research initiative to better understand the challenges that vulnerable patients face in accessing healthcare information and to create recommendations for improving access to such information.

This project includes three coordinated studies to better understand vulnerable patients’ experiences, Altarum Institute conducted semi-structured interviews and focus groups with sixty-five vulnerable healthcare consumers (including low-income individuals, caregivers and non-English speaking); in addition to interviews with middle-income consumers and Medicare retirees for comparison. A national survey will follow to quantitatively measure the prevalence of the challenges as well as the reception to possible solutions that emerged. In addition to the interviews, a consulting firm is interviewing leaders at more than 100 healthcare organizations to learn about their experiences and challenges in serving the vulnerable.

A blog post reviews the five recurring themes that have emerged from patient interviews and focus groups. Subsequent blog posts will explore each theme in greater detail. For more on this initiative and the related blog posts, visit the Health Affairs blog and the Altarum Institute Web site.

The Great Plains QIN team aspires to make healthcare in our region the best in the nation. We want to assist individuals in becoming more confident about making decisions and participating more fully in their healthcare options and care. We are hosting the Great Plains Learning and Action Network as a way to share information, learn from one another and offer education and resources. We invite you to join our Learning and Action Network today and visit our Web site to access resources for individuals and their family members.