Date:  Oct. 3, 2011




Workshop Highlighted Patients' Roles in Improving Health Care


WASHINGTON — The Institute of Medicine released a workshop report today exploring a critical issue in health care — how patients and their families can more effectively become partners in their care.  The report summarizes discussions at an expert meeting held in April last year to consider how improving patient engagement can reduce costs, improve the quality of care, and contribute to continuous learning and improvement in health care.


Workshop participants noted that despite the fact that care often improved when health care providers listened carefully to the concerns of patients and their families, too often the needs of patients were not considered.  For example, participants cited a study that found it typically takes patients only a minute to describe their concerns, but they often are interrupted within 15 seconds of beginning to express them.


Such shortcomings underscore the need to focus on active patient participation in the care process, the meeting participants said.  They highlighted successful strategies, ranging from new ways to discuss complex health information with patients, to new tools and strategies for involving patients in making decisions about treatments and their care, to tailoring patients' care to their individual circumstances, preferences, and needs.  They explored ways in which the success of many new advances in medical research and technology depends on patient engagement, involvement, and action.  The discussions outlined characteristics that identify a truly patient-centered health care system, such as the need to personalize health care, provide seamless services between different health care providers, and ensure a participatory culture for patients.


Describing the contribution made by this project, Institute of Medicine President Harvey Fineberg noted, "Patients Charting the Course illustrates IOM's focus on patients at the center of health care.  An excellent health system depends on strong patient and family engagement in care decisions."


As a summary of workshop activities, the report presents the insights of event participants and does not contain recommendations or position statements from the IOM.  To view the full summary, visit  


Established in 1970 under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine provides independent, objective, evidence-based advice to policymakers, health professionals, the private sector, and the public.  The National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, and National Research Council make up the National Academies.  For more information, visit or   


Christine Stencel, Senior Media Relations Officer

Office of News and Public Information

202-334-2138; e-mail

Copies of Patients Charting the Course: Citizen Engagement and the Learning Health System, A Workshop Summary  are available from the National Academies Press; tel. 202-334-3313 or 1-800-624-6242 or on the Internet at  Reporters may obtain a copy from the Office of News and Public Information (contact listed above).


#       #       #