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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

New group will urge patients to ask questions about their care

By Liz Kowalczyk, Globe Staff

A new organization funded by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts is planning a multi-year patient safety initiative directed at consumers. The Partnership for Healthcare Excellence, a coalition that includes consumer groups, doctors and nurses, and business organizations, plans to launch an advertising campaign this year that encourages patients to play a bigger role in improving the quality of medical care.

The campaign, which will include print ads, a website and direct mail, will provide information about variations in health care quality among different hospitals, and advice for patients on how to prepare for a safe stay in the hospital by asking questions about hospital procedures.

"We are trying to get consumers to become much more active in their care,'" said James Conway, chairman of the partnership board and senior vice president at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement in Cambridge. "A key message is that they have the right to ask questions.'"

Blue Cross, the state's largest health insurer, donated more than $1 million to start the group.

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