Raritan, NJ (October 19, 2011) — Ortho Clinical Diagnostics (OCD), in partnership with the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors (NACDD), today unveiled new consumer survey results and a report revealing the state of blood test health literacy in the United States with strategies to support much-needed patient education and empowerment. The first step: ensuring patient access to and understanding of blood test results, a critical component to maintaining health and wellness. The campaign kicks off during National Health Literacy Month, an awareness effort founded in 1999 to promote the importance of understandable health information.
The survey found that although nearly 90 percent of people would prefer to discuss blood test results during a doctor’s visit, only about 40 percent have discussed their results in person, primarily because the results were either mailed or emailed to the patient or the patient never received the results. In addition, some respondents reported that providers told them to assume everything was okay if the doctor did not notify them about the results. Based on these findings, the “Know Your Numbers” campaign was developed to help patients realize the importance of blood test results in maintaining their health, and encourage them to take a more active role in obtaining and engaging with their healthcare providers to understand blood test results. Key to achieving the goals of the campaign is ensuring that laboratories can get results directly to patients and their healthcare providers, currently a limiting factor in 39 states.
“A key finding from the survey is that patients recognize the importance of their blood test results and want to have the information to participate in their care,” said Nicholas Valeriani, Company Group Chairman, Ortho Clinical Diagnostics. “Initiatives such as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ recently proposed rules to provide direct access for patients to their lab test results will help ensure that consumers can take a more active role in managing their health in partnership with doctors and healthcare providers.”
Based on the survey results, OCD and NACDD convened representatives from government, business, healthcare professional groups and consumer advocates to examine the state of the nation’s health literacy regarding blood tests. The result of this effort, “Fundamentals to Wellness and Prevention: A Call to Action,” is a report that encourages business, healthcare and government leaders to work together to help consumers become more aware of the importance of blood tests, facilitate timely access to test results and help consumers understand their blood test “numbers” so they can translate the knowledge into action.
“Diagnostic test results are your personal healthcare report card, influencing 60 to 70 percent of healthcare decision-making. It is crucial that people are able to obtain blood test results in a timely manner and understand the basic information provided to have a meaningful conversation with their doctors,” said John Robitscher, Chief Executive Officer, NACDD. “Empowering patients to understand the connection between their blood tests and lifestyle may help prevent the onset of a chronic disease, as well as help reduce unnecessary healthcare costs attributed to inadequate health literacy.”
The survey results, “Fundamentals to Wellness” report and “Know Your Numbers” educational materials can be found at http://www.chronicdisease.org/know-your-numbers.
About Fundamentals to Wellness and Prevention Survey
The “Fundamentals to Wellness and Prevention” national omnibus survey of 1,000 consumers, conducted by GfK Roper and funded by Ortho Clinical Diagnostics, found that people want to manage their health, but don’t always understand the importance of blood tests or pay attention to their blood test results. In fact, almost eight in ten people who reported having a recent blood test claim they understood the results; however:
- About half (48 percent) did not know their cholesterol level, and
- Nearly two thirds (65 percent) did not know their blood glucose level.
Among consumers who reported an awareness and understanding of their numbers, more than a third made positive lifestyle changes, such as changing eating habits, maintaining regular medical visits and paying more attention to test results, to improve their health. Of those who reported that they did not make changes following results of a blood test, nearly 90 percent said it was because they did not need to make changes to maintain their health.
“The first step to blood test literacy is access to timely information,” said Robitscher. “OCD and the NACDD urge healthcare professionals and government leaders to join the effort to ensure people have access to the information they need when they need it to become blood test health literate.”
About “Fundamentals to Wellness and Prevention: A Call to Action”
The “Fundamentals to Wellness and Prevention: A Call to Action” report outlines strategies for:
- Increasing consumer awareness of the value blood tests offer in managing their health outcomes;
- Ensuring access to blood tests and test results;
- Encouraging consumers to know and understand their test result “numbers”; and
- Helping consumers translate their test results into recommended action.
The report also provides specific recommendations that can be undertaken by the government, businesses and healthcare providers, such as:
- Identifying information resources that are currently available to consumers and determining how consumers can easily access these resources – including government Web sites, insurance and provider information, and advocacy group resources;
- Incorporating blood tests into wellness routines, both in private healthcare practices and public health-based service delivery;
- Developing training programs for healthcare providers to help them improve communications with patients around blood tests; and
- Creating programs to help ensure that healthcare providers offer consultations and follow-up appointments to track consumer health, and engage consumers to monitor their blood test results on an ongoing basis over time.
About Blood Tests
Diagnostic blood tests are a consumer’s wellness report card. They can flag the warning signs of a developing chronic condition and allow treatments to be better tailored to the individual. All this translates into increased healthcare productivity, potentially reducing chronic conditions and lowering healthcare costs.
Blood tests are especially important in the prevention and treatment of heart disease, cancer and diabetes, which together represent 75 cents out of every healthcare dollar spent in the United States. The cost of health illiteracy is high and can lead to increases in waste and inefficiencies that are estimated to cost the healthcare system between $106 billion and $236 billion each year.
About the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors
The National Association of Chronic Disease Directors (NACDD) is a non-profit Public Health organization for chronic disease program directors of each state and U.S. territory. Founded in 1988, NACDD connects more than 1,400 members to advocate for preventive policies and programs, encourage knowledge sharing and develop partnerships for health promotion. Since its founding, NACDD has been a national leader in mobilizing efforts to reduce chronic diseases and their associated risk factors through state and community-based prevention strategies. More information can be found at www.chronicdisease.org.
About Ortho Clinical Diagnostics
Ortho-Clinical Diagnostics, Inc., delivers the high-quality in vitro diagnostic products that give healthcare professionals around the world the knowledge they need to make better treatment decisions sooner. The company serves the global transfusion medicine community with donor screening and blood typing products to help ensure every patient receives blood that is safe, the right type and the right unit. Ortho Clinical Diagnostics also brings sophisticated information management, testing technologies, and automation and interpretation tools to clinical laboratories worldwide to help them run more efficiently and improve patient care. For more information, visit www.orthoclinical.com.
Ortho Clinical Diagnostics compensated the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors for its work on the “Know Your Numbers” program.
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 US Department of Health and Human Services. HHS announces the nation’s new health promotion and disease prevention agenda [Press release]. 2010. Retrieved from http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2010pres/12/20101202a.html
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