Activating consumers on a national scale will require the development and refinement of resources to provide support at all stages of the medication-use process across all health care settings. Specifically, health and medication information and educational tools must be revised to have consumer-friendly formats; a variety of supportive interventions for medication safety and self-management education should be developed and tested; systems that provide around-the-clock access to clinical support should be developed; information technology tools should incorporate programs that support medication management and general self-care; and regulatory councils should expand consumer participation. All stakeholders in the health system (e.g., government regulators, payers, employers, industry) should make contributions to the development and implementation of these means of support for consumers and providers.
Recommendation 2: Government agencies (i.e., the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality [AHRQ], the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services [CMS], the Food and Drug Administration [FDA], and the National Library of Medicine [NLM]) should enhance the resource base for consumer-oriented drug information and medication self-management support. Such efforts require standardization of pharmacy medication information leaflets, improvement of online medication resources, establishment of a national drug information telephone helpline, the development of personal health records, and the formulation of a national plan for the dissemination of medication safety information.
Pharmacy medication information leaflets should be standardized to a format designed for readability, comprehensibility, and usefulness to consumers. The leaflets should be made available to consumers in a manner that accommodates their individual needs, such as those associated with variations in literacy, language, age, and visual acuity.
The NLM should be designated as the chief agency responsible for Internet health information resources for consumers. Drug information should be provided through a consumers’ version of the DailyMed program, with links to the NLM’s Medline Plus program for general health and additional drug information.
CMS, the FDA, and the NLM, working together, should undertake a full evaluation of various methods for building and funding a national network of drug information helplines.