Stephanie Smiley, Department of Health Services (608) 266-1683
Cindy Schlough, Wisconsin Collaborative for Healthcare Quality, (608)
CONSORTIUM RELEASES EVALUATION ON ASK ME 3
Program Engages Patients in their Healthcare
MADISON—A consortium of organizations working
to improve the quality of healthcare in Wisconsin released a report today
on the Ask Me 3™ pilot program. The pilot tested the effectiveness of an
education program designed to improve patient-provider communication, help
patients understand health instructions and engage patients in their own
"Research indicates that the ability to read, understand and use
health information is the strongest predictor of an individual's health
status-more than age, income, education level, race or ethnicity, or
employment status," said consortium member Karen Timberlake,
Secretary of the Department of Health Services. "This pilot program
tested an approach aimed at helping patients and clinicians improve their
communication skills by encouraging patients to ask questions."
"Good communication between doctors and patients is critical to
improving health care," said Christopher Queram, president and CEO of
the Wisconsin Collaborative for Healthcare Quality (WCHQ), one of the
members of the consortium.
As part of the program, known as Ask Me 3™, patients are encouraged
to ask their health care providers three simple, but essential questions
at every visit and providers are encouraged to assist their patients in
understanding the answers to these three questions:
1. What is my main problem?
2. What do I need to do?
3. Why is it important for me to do this?
Studies show that people who understand health instructions make fewer
mistakes when they take their medicine or prepare for a medical procedure.
They may also get well sooner or be able to better manage a chronic health
The pilot program compared two different implementation approaches
among racially and ethnically diverse, low-income patient populations in
six community health centers in Beloit, Marshfield, Milwaukee, Racine, and
Wausau. Orientation sessions for staff at each center were held prior to
launching the program.
Ask Me 3™ program materials such as brochures and fact sheets were
placed in easily accessible places throughout the community health
centers. A four-minute DVD played in the main waiting areas emphasizing
the importance of patients asking their care provider questions and
demonstrating how individuals might use the questions in their visit.
"These centers, who serve many minority and low-income
individuals, were excellent partners," said Timberlake. "The
evaluation found that patients and providers thought that Ask Me 3™ was
a good tool, but by itself was not enough to get patients to ask their
health care provider questions. Findings also suggest that having someone
speak directly to the patients about the importance of understanding what
their doctor is telling them is helpful."
"The second part of the process is getting clinicians to encourage
their patients to ask questions to try to make sure that they understand
their health condition and needed treatment," said Queram. "But
clinic schedules are tight and providers have limited time to spend with
patients-to listen to them, to draw them into a discussion."
WCHQ and DHS conducted the pilot program with the support of the
Wisconsin Medical Society, Wisconsin Literacy, Wisconsin Primary Health
Care Association, South Central Area Health Education Center, University
of Wisconsin-Madison-Population Health Institute, University of
Wisconsin-Madison-Department of Family Medicine, University of
Wisconsin-Madison-Institute for Clinical and Translational Research, and
the Wisconsin Research and Education Network.
The pilot project was supported by the Wisconsin Department of Health
Services and Aligning Forces for Quality, an initiative of the Robert Wood
To view a copy of the Ask Me 3™ pilot report, visit http://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/aboutdhs/OPIB/policyresearch/AskMe3Report.pdf
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Last Revised: July 29, 2010