The new Consumer Platform reflects five years of work by the nation’s leading consumer organizations. Twenty-seven health, aging, caregiver, consumer and labor organizations have signed onto it to date. It calls consumers the most significant untapped resource in health care today. They play a critical, yet undervalued role in decision-making, both on the individual and policy-making levels. Consumers can work collaboratively with other stakeholders as agents of change, informed decision-makers, sources of information, and integrators of better health into the context of their lives, the Platform says. But to fulfill the promise of full engagement in their health care, consumers must have access to information and the tools to make that information meaningful and useful. If the nation can achieve that, and consumers can work as full partners with other stakeholders to improve health outcomes, the promise of better care, greater affordability and healthier communities can be realized, it concludes.
As part of the vision it lays out, the Consumer Platform details characteristics of a new kind of health care system that is truly patient-centered; describes the best ways to implement health IT; outlines roles consumers should play in a reformed health system; and more.
The 13-page Platform says, in part:
Our health care system is dysfunctional and in many ways operates far from the influence of consumers and patients — the people who should be at its very center... Like many others, we believe the meaningful use of health IT can transform health and health care, much as technology has transformed other industries. In addition, we believe the ability of health IT to improve outcomes in the quality, efficiency and experience of health care services is dependent upon the degree to which consumers are engaged in efforts to implement and use these new technologies... consumer, patient and caregiver engagement is the game-changing element of a comprehensive, effective strategy for reforming our overburdened, overpriced health care system, through more effective use of information.
"At this pivotal moment in the transformation of our nation’s health care system, we are issuing both a call for change and a touchstone to which consumers, policy makers and other stakeholders can refer as we develop new policies," said Christine Bechtel, Vice President of the National Partnership for Women & Families, which led the effort to develop the new Consumer Platform. "To date, incredible advancements in medical technology have changed the kind of care we provide, but we’ve seen too little progress in the way we provide it. With this Platform, we hope to change that." Bechtel represents patients and families on the federal Health IT Policy Committee.
A full list of signers to the new Consumer Platform for Health IT follows:
Advocacy for Patients with Chronic Illness, Inc.
American Association of People with Disabilities
American Association on Health and Disability
American Heart Association
American Hospice Foundation
Caring From a Distance
Center for Democracy and Technology
Center for Medical Consumers
Family Caregiver Alliance
Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
Mothers Against Medical Error
National Alliance for Caregiving
National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship
National Consumers League
National Family Caregivers Association
National Health Law Program
National Partnership for Women & Families
National Women’s Health Network
OWL — The Voice of Midlife and Older Women
The Children’s Partnership
The Empowered Patient Coalition
Well Spouse Association
The new Consumer Platform for Health IT is available here.
The National Partnership for Women & Families is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy group dedicated to promoting fairness in the workplace, access to quality health care and policies that help women and men meet the dual demands of work and family. More information is available at www.NationalPartnership.org.