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NHS England is to launch a new pilot scheme that aims to help general practitioners assess the care and support needs of people with long-term conditions.
A new assessment tool, known as patient activation, is designed to help GPs put people with long-term conditions at the centre of the care and support they receive. It measures the knowledge, skills and confidence these patients have to manage their own health, and highlights where they need extra support.
The pilot, which will cover 150,000 people, is being launched in partnership with The King’s Fund, The Health Foundation, five clinical commissioning groups and The Renal Registry.
The launch follows the publication of a recent report from The King’s Fund, ‘Supporting people to manage their own health: an introduction to patient activation’, which introduces the concept of patient activation and its potential for application in England.
Research has also shown that people with long-term conditions with higher activation levels have better health outcomes, and that people with lower activation levels incur higher health care costs.
The challenge for health care professionals will be to work with the 10 per cent of people who have low levels of activation. Studies have shown that when the right services and support are put in place their activation and health improves, and they are able to make changes which improve their well-being.
Dr Martin McShane, NHS England’s Director for Long-Term Conditions, said: “I wish I had known about patient activation thirty years ago; I’m very excited about its potential to improve peoples’ lives. It’s about understanding that when talking to patients that there are two experts in the room – one with individual experience, the other with medical expertise. This pilot will bring together the best of both, putting patients at the heart of their consultation.”
Sheffield general practitioner Dr Ollie Hart said “I am a big supporter of the value of considering patient activation in clinical care. Patient activation is about a paradigm shift in how we as patients and clinicians interact and work together to get the best possible outcomes. Working like this means I can better understand where patients with long-term conditions are coming from and match my interventions to their needs.”
Adrian Sieff, Assistant Director of Strategy at the Health Foundation, said “The higher a person’s activation – their knowledge, skills and confidence – the better they are at managing their long-term conditions, resulting in better health outcomes. Patient activation can work as both a core diagnostic tool and an intermediate outcome measure.”
Dr Helen Gilburt, Fellow, Health Policy, The King’s Fund, said: “The evidence summarised in our new report shows that measuring patient activation can play an important role in improving health outcomes, encouraging healthy behaviours and tackling health inequalities in England.”