Within the past decade, health care costs have risen by 88% and are expected to account for 18% of GDP in 2012. Many patients can no longer afford their health care and 40% of patients with a serious medical condition face financial hardship because of the cost of their care, according to the Institute of Medicine (IOM).

This changing health care environment demands a greater focus on enhancing value for patients. To make sure the best information on how to navigate the nation’s health care system is easy to find and able to be incorporated into complex and stressful medical decisions, the IOM and the Roundtable on Value & Science-Driven Health Care, experts on quality and value in health care, this summer (2012) released a discussion paper concerning the role of patient and consumer action in demanding greater value in health care.

Katherine Baicker, professor of health economics at Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), is one of the roundtable members who contributed to Demanding Value from Our Health Care. The report explores the motivations for engaging people in health care value, the obstacles to doing so, lessons learned from provider and consumer experiences, strategies for success, and suggested policy implementations that can enhance quality in our health care system.

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