Patient activation

People must be at the centre of a more sustainable health system with services shaped around their needs and preferences. Patient activation’ describes the knowledge, skills and confidence a person has in managing their own health and care. Evidence shows that when people are supported to become more activated, they benefit from better health outcomes, improved experiences of care and fewer unplanned care admissions.

Patient activation is of particular importance to the 15 million people living with long-term conditions (LTCs) who rely, more than most, on NHS services. By understanding people’s activation levels, in particular, measuring patient activation using tools such as the Patient Activation Measure (PAM) enables care professionals to tailor their approaches to individual needs to improve their health outcomes, ensure a better experience of care and reduce unplanned care admissions.

Patient Activation Measure (PAM®)

The PAM is a validated licenced tool to measure patients’ skills, knowledge and confidence to manage their long-term conditions.

PAM licences are available from NHS England and Improvement as part of the Supported Self-management component of the Personalised Care Programme. The licence cost associated is funded by NHS England and Improvement as part of a national agreement which [general] covers NHS organisations in England, or organisations working in partnership with the NHS, that are requesting more than 200 licences.

If you are an STP or ICS, CCG, provider or voluntary sector organisation and you would like to apply for PAM licences, please email for an application form. If you are applying for PAM licences on behalf of a PCN, please email your request to providing your PCN name and a lead contact name and email address.

Universal Personalised Care specifically mentions the need to understand a person’s level of knowledge, skills and confidence, using tools such as the PAM or equivalent. PAM is currently the NHS England and Improvement standard default tool to measure skills, knowledge and confidence for the vast majority of people although, we do recognise that PAM may not be suitable for certain groups and conditions. We are currently working to understand what these groups and conditions are and what other tools are available for measuring patient activation levels.

Measuring and monitoring patient activation is central to meeting the aims of Universal Personalised Care and you can assume that licence costs will continue to be met centrally on an ongoing basis.

We are also aware of the demand to measure patient activation in more digitally enabled formats and are currently exploring a range of digital solutions that are suitable for the NHS. For more information about patient activation please see the Frequently Asked Questions or email