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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Engaging Patients in Improving Health Care Quality

Joseph Ditré

Director of Enterprise and Innovation

Deborah Roseman

Regional Support Manager, Aligning Forces for Quality

Over the past two decades, state-based consumer advocates and health care practitioners have worked together to help low-income people—including those living in communities of color or with chronic medical conditions—gain access to health coverage. As more people gained insurance coverage, consumer advocates and health care providers focused their attention on improving the patient’s experience with the health care system. The upcoming webinar from Aligning Forces for Quality (AF4Q) will focus on lessons learned in several communities about engaging patients to improve care.

On Wednesday, March 25 from 1:00 to 2:00 PM (EST), AF4Q with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) will offer a webinar to share its Patient Engagement Toolkit. The easy-to-understand toolkit captures lessons learned by patients and providers in several communities participating in the AF4Q initiative. The toolkit is a free, online resource that provides short videos and accompanying tools to guide health care practitioners and organizations interested in establishing patient-provider partnerships to improve care. 

At Families USA, we often hear from state-based consumer advocates about practical issues and concerns that consumers raise regarding their encounters with the health system—long waits in the provider’s office, difficulty in scheduling appointments, indecipherable medical and insurance bills, providers who don’t listen to the real concerns of patients or caregivers, lack of language access, and poor customer service rank high among others. The overarching goal of AF4Q is to help communities improve the quality and experience of care for patients. Of course, there is an important but often-overlooked strategy—asking patients what’s not working, and how they would fix it. 

Aligning Forces for Quality (AF4Q) is the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s signature effort to lift the overall quality of health care in 16 diverse communities, reduce racial and ethnic disparities, and provide models for national reform.

In the toolkit’s first video, Janina Shayne, a Patient Partner at a primary care practice in Humboldt County, California, poses a question that resonates with many patients and health care advocates: 

“Have you ever had an experience as a patient that wasn’t enjoyable, comforting, or was a waste of your time?”

Practices in several AF4Q communities are asking patients how they would fix what’s not working, and more. Providers are teaming up with patients to improve care. If you want to learn how they do it, register for the March 25 webinar. You’ll hear program, provider, and patient perspectives on how these quality improvement partnerships work. 

You’ll also learn how the free “Tools for Engaging Patients in Your Practice” can help you get started. 

  • The toolkit offers 10 short videos, about 1 to 3 minutes in length. 
  • You can watch all 10 videos in about 18 minutes. 
  • Each video has an accompanying PowerPoint slide with three or four takeaways, and a set of accompanying tools you can adopt or adapt. The videos feature patients and health care providers from Maine, Oregon, and Humboldt, California, describing the practical aspects of establishing a patient-provider partnership including time commitments and roles. 

Cindy Klug, Director of Education at the Providence Medical Group in Oregon, says the starting point for health providers who want to improve their practice of medicine and their relationship with patients is: “What would our patients think?” If you set up a patient-provider partnership, you’ll know the answer to that question. Let the webinar help you get started.

Learn more about AF4Q’s efforts in this article from Health Affairs: Early Lessons From Four ‘Aligning Forces For Quality’ Communities Bolster The Case For Patient-Centered Care