Johns Hopkins HealthCare Uses AHRQ Resources to Promote Health Literacy and Measure Patient Experience

Patient Safety
May 2016

AHRQ's "Questions Are the Answer" patient engagement videos and brochures are used by Johns Hopkins HealthCare (JHHC) affiliated health plans—Priority Partners, Johns Hopkins Employer Health Programs, and Johns Hopkins US Family Health Plans—to promote more effective communication between their 320,000 health plan members and their medical providers. "Questions Are the Answer" is part of JHHC's Health Literacy Initiative that was launched in 2012.

As part of that same initiative, JHHC also uses AHRQ's Health Literacy Universal Precautions Toolkit to encourage its 14,000 network providers to improve communication with patients. The toolkit recommends adopting evidence-based practices to boost communication, such as asking patients to repeat instructions to confirm they understand the information.

In addition, JHHC uses AHRQ's Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS)® Adult Commercial Health Plan 5.0 survey each year to assess patients' experiences with health plans and their services.

Noelle Flaherty, M.B.A., M.S., JHHC's director of quality improvement, explained the benefits that result when health plan providers develop more effective communication with their patients. "By having engaged patients and developing an improved means of communication with them, our health plan providers can help patients more clearly understand their medical conditions and how to follow their treatment plans. That leads to better and safer patient care."

AHRQ's "Questions Are the Answer" materials have been promoted in JHHC's member and provider newsletters, on video monitors in JHHC buildings, and on the JHHC Web site. About half of JHHC's providers distributed AHRQ's "Questions Are the Answer" videos and brochures directly to their patients.

In an effort to improve medication use and safety, JHHC conducted a direct mail campaign in 2015. Based on "Questions Are the Answer," the mailer encouraged members to ask their pharmacist questions to fully understand how to take their medicines.

"It's increasingly important to get feedback from patients about the medical care they receive. We also need multiple approaches to educate our members, encourage their active participation in health care decision-making, and ensure they will have a good experience as one of our patients," Ms. Flaherty said.

Impact Case Study Identifier: 
AHRQ Product(s): CAHPS, Health Literacy Universal Precautions Toolkit, Questions Are the Answer Public Service Campaign
Topics(s): Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS)
Geographic Location: Maryland
Implementer: Johns Hopkins HealthCare, LLC
Date: 05/10/2016
Page last reviewed May 2016
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