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Low-Income Patients Want More Health Information, Greater Engagement With Providers

New survey of Californians identifies approaches for communicating and connecting with patients to improve health

WASHINGTON, Oct. 23, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As millions of low-income patients gain health coverage for the first time, a report released today by Blue Shield of California Foundation examines the opportunities and challenges in engaging this long-underserved population. " Building Better Health Care for Low-Income Californians" finds that clear, accessible information and open communication are key building blocks for forging strong patient-provider relationships, producing engaged patients and ultimately improving health outcomes.

"We must bring patients into the conversation if we want to transform health care in California and across the country," said Peter V. Long, PhD, president and CEO of Blue Shield of California Foundation. "The findings of this research make clear why communication is so important and provide a roadmap to better engage patients as our health system continues to evolve."

The report is based on an extensive statewide survey of low-income Californians, which found that just 28 percent feel they have all the easily comprehensible health information they need to make good decisions about their care. The rest, seven in 10, want more information from their providers if it is clear and accessible. Absent that, many turn to less trusted sources. Nearly 40 percent rely on media and the internet when they have health questions or concerns, the same as seek out physicians and other providers.

The report recommends strategies to improve communication and connection. It notes that many patients today are technologically savvy in ways that healthcare facilities and practices should utilize: Seven in 10 low-income Californians with email or cell phone texting capabilities are interested in using them to communicate with their providers. 

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