As millions of low-income patients gain health coverage for the first time, a report released today by Blue Shield of California Foundation examines the opportunities and challenges in engaging this long-underserved population. “Building Better Health Care for Low-Income Californians” finds that clear, accessible information and open communication are key building blocks for forging strong patient-provider relationships, producing engaged patients and ultimately improving health outcomes.
The report was released at the National Press Club and discussed by a panel of health experts that included NACHC Chief Medical Officer Ron Yee, MD. Dr. Yee commented on the survey results which revealed the importance of a strong patient-provider relationship; that low-income patients who report having such a bond are far more likely to rate their quality of care positively. He described seeing this firsthand as clinician at a Migrant Health Center in California. “Because health centers are community-based… the personal touch is really critical,” he explained. “That is where you get a lot of that connectedness. You may be seeing someone’s relative or neighbor in health center because we come from small towns. The town I was practicing had 12 thousand people. So, the first thing is the low tech of being concerned about the patient. We have to have enough time to spend with the patient. The kind of providers we hire are key in that because some of these things you can’t really teach. You have to have mission driven people that are focused on patient care.”
The report also recommends strategies to boost communication and connection, while noting that many patients today are technologically savvy in ways that health care providers may not realize. For instance, seven in 10 low-income Californians with email or cell phone texting capabilities are interested in using them to communicate with their providers.
Other findings include:
- 28 percent feel they have all the easily comprehensible health information they need to make good decisions about their care.
- The rest, seven in 10, want more information from their providers if it is clear and accessible. Absent that, many turn to less trusted sources. Nearly 40 percent rely on media and the internet when they have health questions or concerns
- 42 percent of low-income Californians lack access to the internet (compared to 13 percent of higher income residents).
You can read more of the report by visiting this link: