Doing Life Together

Doing Life Together

Your Doctor May Be Checking a New Vital Sign!

doctor smallerLet’s say you just had a check up and found out your blood sugar was too high. Your doctor talked to you about managing your diet in a way that might bring those levels down. Now, it is up to you to follow through with a plan.

Will you do it?

In order to get a sense of your compliance, your doctor might give you an assessment called a Patient Activation Measure (PAM) in which you agree/disagree with 13 statements that are rated on a score from 0 to 100 points. Based on your score, you will fall into one of four categories that measure how well you will engage in your own care.


If you are highly motivated, you will most likely have a better outcome with your health issue and incur lower costs along the way. If you are not so well motivated, well…you are probably unlikely to take your medications, follow through on advice and instruction, skip preventative measure or end up back in the doctor’s office or the hospital.

If you’ve had surgery and need to change your eating habits or deal with a chronic condition like high blood pressure, your activation score matters.  Health care providers want you to become confident in your ability to change your own behavior and do what is necessary to take charge of your health.

Most doctors who use this measure are not going to tell you how you score. If you rank low on the score, you are considered passive when it comes to your own care. You lack confidence and problems-solving and may need some coaching. If you score in the second level, you probably have some knowledge of what to do, but could use help. Level 3  people take action and are goal-oriented. If you score in level 4, you are doing new things to make changes, but may need a little help when stress hits high. The higher the score, the more engaged you are in your health destiny.


Why do doctors care about this score? Low scores relate to cost of care. The lower the score, the more likely you will be readmitted to a hospital post 30 days of discharge than those with higher scores (Journal of General Internal Medicine).

For the patient, it’s all about controlling your own destiny and taking charge of your health care. So get activated. You don’t need an assessment to know that the more you care about doing what you can to prevent and manage illness, the better your life will be and the less money you will spend on health care.


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