Will educating the American public about how to identify and obtain better medical care effectively reduce the country's health-care costs?
That's the goal of a public health initiative sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). A post today on the Health Blog offers more details on the foundation's Care About Your Care campaign, which will include a live webcast on Thursday:
Studies in recent years have concluded that Americans get recommended care such as immunizations and cancer screenings only 55% of the time, and that about 30% of the U.S. health-care dollar is spent on products and services that don’t improve health, such as unnecessary X-rays. But it also hasn’t been easy to get people to take better care of themselves or play a more active role in seeking good care.
. . .The campaign’s website offers a checklist of nine tips, including learning about the best treatments for a medical condition and questioning why a test or treatment is necessary. While many of the tips seem fairly obvious — like keeping a list of medications and bringing a list of questions to the doctor — [RWJF’s chief, physician Risa Lavizzo-Mourey] says they often aren’t followed. Over 40% of patients, for example, haven’t taken a list of all of their current medications to a doctor’s appointment.
The campaign also hopes to encourage broader use of the growing number of free quality-focused websites to help choose the best doctors and hospitals. The RWJF in July launched an online quality health-care directory to help patients compare local doctors and hospitals with public reports from all over the country, and the new campaign offers a guide on how to use the reports.