How to “widen the front door to health care?” asks PricewaterhouseCoopers in a report on alternatives to universal coverage.

PwC describes the crisis of U.S. health care as having “jammed access.” Their multi-pronged solution includes getting efficient, innovating with new care models, aligning incentives, and greater teamwork among providers.

PwC points to the emergency department as the most jammed entry point in the U.S. health system, noting that health citizens having trouble accessing providers – primary care, specialists and mental health providers alike.
But this isn’t just a supply-side problem: it’s also about patient engagement before people get sick, as the chart above supports. PwC rightly points out, “Individuals are generally inactive in their own health care until they’re sick.” Once a person becomes a patient, then, it’s a matter of data liquidity and information flows that empower providers and patients in a team-based approach to health care.

The report comes from PwC’s Health Research Institute and is titled, Jammed access: Widening the front door to healthcare.

Health Populi’s Hot Points: Health engagement is a function of many factors; one factor, insurance type, significantly influences health engagement, as the chart illustrates. For example, 61% of Americans with employer-based health insurance blame their lack of health involvement because they do not know where to go to find good health information. 25% of Medicare beneficiaries say they’re not health engaged because they would “rather have someone else tell me what I need to do.” Finally, 33% of people without health insurance are simply “not interested” in engaging in health.

Another new report called, Health care quality transparency: If you build it, will patients come?” from the Center for Studying Health System Change speaks to the question of how engaged Americans are with health quality information. The answer is, “not much.” The unexciting but realistic conclusion is that, “Until consumers are motivated to use quality information to choose providers, the main value of public quality reporting will likely be to motivate providers to improve their performance.”

Whatever supply-side tactics are developed to deal with un-jamming the jammed access points to health care (from the emergency room to primary care waiting rooms), getting Americans re-engaged in their own care is at least one-half of the equation for re-inventing care in America.

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