In an effort to improve health information systems and exchanges in Wyoming, the AARP Wyoming State office and the University of Wyoming Geriatric Education Center commissioned a survey of Wyoming residents age 50 and older to better understand residents’ experiences with the health care system in the state and their preference for receiving information to help them manage their health care more effectively. This survey explored whether Wyoming residents age 50 and older are able to access adequate information to make health care decisions; whether information from outside sources – available online and through other, often unregulated sources – is filling the gap left by reduced face-to-face time with physicians; and how a person’s health literacy impacts their health care experience.
The study found that Wyoming residents age 50 and older are knowledgeable about their own personal health but are less knowledgeable about their health plans and health care providers in their area. Wyoming residents view their primary care doctors as being their most reliable source of health information and they prefer to discuss their health plans in-person with their doctor. Developing more effective ways for doctors and patients to have personal contact with each other and exchange information can help people to better manage and make good decisions about their own health care. Specifically:
- Nearly 70 percent of respondents are extremely or very knowledgeable about their personal health conditions and the prescription drugs they are taking, but only about half are extremely or very knowledgeable about their health insurance benefits.
- Two-thirds of respondents want to be able to talk to their doctor or health care provider while receiving care from a health facility.
- Three-quarters of respondents want their doctors and health care providers to give them information that will allow Wyoming residents to make better decisions about their health care.
- Three-quarters of respondents find their primary care doctors to be the most helpful information source on health care.
- Eighty-four percent of respondents say they understood the patient care plans upon being discharged from a health care facility. Sixty-nine percent say they were extremely or very satisfied with the health care provider’s follow-up on the patient care plan.
- About a quarter of respondents who have had recent experience with a health care facility and did not receive any patient care plan follow-up after leaving the facility say that they, or a family member or friend, were re-admitted to the hospital or care center within three months to be treated for the same condition.
The survey was fielded during September 25-October 30, 2009, and exactly 1,518 surveys were returned by the cut-off date, for a response rate of 38 percent. The sample was weighted by age to represent the actual composition of Wyoming residents age 50 and older, and the weighted number of respondents was 1,427. The total number of Wyoming residents age 50 and older is 172,715; it is important to note that Wyoming has a small and geographically spread out population given the physical size of the state. For further information,contact Joanne Binette at 202-434-6303. (35 pages)