AHRQ Tools Help Consumers Across Pennsylvania Take an Active Role in Their Health Care

Patient Safety
April 2017

Hospitals and libraries across Pennsylvania are using AHRQ's "Questions Are the Answer" patient engagement tools and resources as a part of a consumer health literacy education program called "Engage for Health."

Engage for Health was launched during Health Literacy Month in October 2014. It was expanded and improved in 2015 as a pilot program involving 18 libraries statewide that tested a standardized assessment tool to measure the effectiveness of the program in promoting health literacy. The pilot reached 150 individuals ranging from students to retirees. Following the program, 92 percent of participants said the program improved their ability to prepare for medical visits, while 93 percent said they were more likely to discuss their concerns with their doctor.

Engage for Health is a partnership among The Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania (HAP), Pennsylvania Library Association (PaLA), and the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, Middle Atlantic Region (NNLM MAR). The goal is to encourage people to take an active role in their health care.

Hundreds of Engage for Health programs have been held across Pennsylvania and the Mid-Atlantic Region with the support HAP, Pennsylvania hospitals and health systems, PaLA, and NNLM MAR. The program was presented at a New York Library Association conference in 2016 and is planned for the 2017 Medical Library Association national conference.

The program—which incorporates AHRQ's video and other patient engagement resources—was developed by HAP as part of its efforts to improve the patient experience. HAP is a not-for-profit trade association representing nearly 250 acute care, specialty care, primary care, home health care, and other providers across Pennsylvania.

"When patients and their families are engaged as partners with the health care team, patients report better physical and emotional health," said Sandra L. Abnett, HAP's quality initiatives project manager.

"HAP's clinical staff used its expertise in the 'teach-back' technique to develop a community education program that teaches individuals how to use the technique to take an active role in their care by interacting with their provider and asking questions to make sure they understand the patient information they receive."

"This program includes a role play exercise with a health care professional to help individuals see first-hand how to interact with their providers by asking questions to make sure they understand the information they've received."

Impact Case Study Identifier: 
AHRQ Product(s): Questions Are the Answer Public Service Campaign
Topics(s): Health Literacy, Quality of Care, Outcomes, Patient Experience
Geographic Location: Pennsylvania
Implementer: The Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania Library Association; National Network of Libraries of Medicine, Middle Atlantic Region
Date: 04/14/2017
Page last reviewed April 2017
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