It is important to encourage consumers to participate in health policy, because consumers are stakeholders in the legislative process. However, Hibbard and Peters (2003) explain that consumers may not have the cognitive capacity or the motivation to educate themselves on every aspect of health policy. If health care providers want consumers to increase their participation in health policy, then it is important to engage participants through experiential processing and decrease analytical processing. Consumers may not understand how they are directly affected by health policy. Health care providers can help patients have a better idea of how health policy affects them by connecting through personal stories and experiences, similar to explaining to legislators how health policy impacts patients and practice. It is important to involve consumers in health policy, because health policy is aimed at improving patient outcomes, quality, and decreasing health care costs. However, the amount of information on health policy can be overwhelming. One approach is to decrease the cognitive load by highlighting important factors to consider that is meaningful to the patient, such as the impact of health policy on health, finance, and access to care. Other strategies include empowerment, education, and increased awareness of important health policies. It is also important to take into consideration the age, literacy, cultural differences, and education of the patient to gauge comprehension and use of health policy information and to tailor health policy information that specifically affects that patient. Referring patients to use the web for further health policy information opens up the most opportunities for engagement and information. When consumers join an advocacy group on the web, it brings together consumers with similar interests, information-sharing, and support (Hibbard and Peters, 2003).
If consumers want to learn more about health policy, they could also learn about health policy by starting a blog and going through the same process we have done in our DNP Health Policy class. In sum, we learned the basic policy making process, statutory and regulatory mechanisms, and identify the roles and positions of institutions, actors, legislators, and advocacy groups. We also learned to consider all sides of an issue including financial costs and benefits, local, state, national, and federal involvement, different position statements of advocacy groups, the impact of the health care policy on health, and ethical decision making. Other strategies included becoming involved in a larger advocacy group to share ideas, learn, and grow in becoming a health policy change agent. Reading the news and staying updated on health policies of interest were important ways to stay involved. Subscription to related social media, such as news feeds, Twitter, and Facebook also helped to stay knowledgeable about health policy topics. Lastly, initiating dialogue among experts in health policy topics was also a great way to gain insight and understanding into the experience of those working in the trenches and working in the front-lines.
Hibbard, J.H., & Peters, E. (2003). Supporting informed consumer health care decisions: Data presentation approaches that facilitate the use of information in choice. Annual Review of Public Health, 24, 413-433. doi: 10.1146/annurev.publhealth.24.100901.141005