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Survey: Americans want greater control over their own health care

BY Jason Owen

PHILADELPHIA — According to a new Wolters Kluwer Health survey, 80% of consumers believe the greater "consumerization" of health care — or the trend of individuals taking a greater and more active role in their own health care — is positive for Americans. Survey data suggests many Americans feel that a greater role in their care is not only good, but necessary, with 86% of consumers reporting that they feel they have to take a more proactive role in managing their own health care in order to ensure better quality of care.

Most consumers also say they feel prepared to take on a greater role in managing their own health care, with 76% reporting that they have the information and tools to take a more proactive role in healthcare decisions ranging from choosing healthcare providers to researching treatment options. Despite feeling prepared, only 19% report that they have their own electronic Personal Health Record (PHR).

These findings correlate to recent reports from DSN highlighting consumers turning more towards social media and mobile apps to help in their healthcare needs.

"With greater responsibility placed on patients to take a role in their own care, it’s essential that consumers have access to evidence-based tools and resources to make informed decisions about their care in partnership with their healthcare providers," said Dr. Linda Peitzman, chief medical officer for Wolters Kluwer Health. "Access to research-based medical information not only can positively impact quality of care, but it also can lead to improved doctor-patient communication and relationships."

Survey findings showed that the notion of the "patient experience" is also gaining significance for many Americans. Three-in-10 adults (i.e., 30%) want their patient experience to be the same as any other customer experience they have — such as shopping, hotel and travel experiences — complete with choices and control.

The Wolters Kluwer Health survey was conducted by IPSOS among 1,000 U.S. consumers ages 18 years and older. Survey questions focused on exploring whether consumers want more control over their own health care and whether they feel prepared to take on more responsibility.

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ATA partners with minority caucuses to advance telemedicine legislation at the state level

BY Jason Owen

WASHINGTON — The American Telemedicine Association, the leading nonprofit membership organization for remote medical services, is working with three minority legislative caucuses to educate lawmakers and introduce model legislation for telehealth in statehouses around the country. ATA has formed partnerships with the National Organization of Black Elected Legislative Women (NOBEL), the National Black Caucus of State Legislators (NBCSL) and the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators (NHCSL) with the goal of maximizing state-government support of telemedicine. All three organizations have recently passed resolutions calling for the removal of artificial policy barriers and greater adoption of telehealth services.

“This collaboration builds on the great work already being done to advance telemedicine in forward-thinking state legislatures,” said Jonathan Linkous, CEO of the American Telemedicine Association. “States are often the true innovators in developing policies, regulations and payment mechanisms in support of telemedicine. We’re using the outcomes, evidence and lessons learned from these cases to show all state governments how telemedicine can improve the quality of health care, increase access and reduce costs."

NOBEL, NBCSL and NHCSL are natural allies for ATA, both for their focus on state policy and as representatives for minority populations. Telemedicine is proven to have a significant positive impact on historically underserved groups. “Remote healthcare services can alleviate chronic healthcare shortages that exist in both urban centers and rural areas,” Linkous said.

ATA and its members have been instrumental in steering state policies to better deploy telemedicine. To date, 16 states’ legislatures have mandated payer reimbursement of telemedicine services. Almost every state now includes some telehealth in their Medicaid programs and many states are expanding their services to cut Medicare service costs. ATA has also worked to eliminate burdensome regulatory issues that exist, or have been proposed, in many states.

In October 2012, ATA received a grant from the Human Resources and Services Administration, a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, to research state telehealth policies and promote state-level best practices.

The American Telemedicine Association is the leading international resource and advocate promoting the use of advanced remote medical technologies. ATA and its diverse membership work to fully integrate telemedicine into healthcare systems to improve quality, equity and affordability of health care throughout the world. Established in 1993, ATA is headquartered in Washington, D.C. For more information, visit the organization’s website.

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Approach of holidays brings increase in retail foot traffic, sales for week ended Dec. 8

BY Rebecca Haughey

CHICAGO — Holiday shoppers continued their quest for the perfect gifts during the week ended Dec. 8, according to ShopperTrak. Consumer activity drove a 7.8% increase in foot traffic and 6.5% increase in sales from the previous week.

Consumers, however, were not as active as they were at this time last year, with a sales decrease of 1.5% when compared to the same period in 2011. ShopperTrak predicted last week’s slight lags in year-over-year foot traffic, as an extra full weekend between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year means shoppers have more time to postpone their holiday purchases.

Week-over-week numbers improved in part due to the beginning of Hanukkah on Dec. 8. ShopperTrak expects this pattern of increasing foot traffic and sales to continue, with the week before Christmas generating the largest weekly sales volume of the year.

"Shoppers have 12 days, including two full weekends, to complete their Christmas purchases," said Bill Martin, ShopperTrak founder. "After this week, stores and malls are going to see business picking up as droves of consumers tick off the final items of their shopping lists. The best way for retailers to translate this expected increase in retail foot traffic into more sales is to measure and manage their shopper conversion rates. This information will allow them to respond to the holiday shopper’s uneven behavior and secure their bottom lines as the year draws to a close."

ShopperTrak analyzed retail foot traffic from more than 50,000 locations across 74 countries to create this National Retail Sales Estimate of general merchandise, apparel, accessories, furniture and other specialty categories.

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