Engaged Patients, Improved Care
Thursday, February 27, 2014
Patients are the Key

We know that when you have the right people at the table, things get done. That's why each of the 16 AF4Q communities put patients at the center of their work. Today's edition of Spotlight showcases AF4Q's successes and lessons learned in consumer engagement. To learn more about our work in this area, click here.

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Lessons Learned: Engaging Patients to Improve Care

A growing number of quality improvement projects are enabling patients, families, and advocates to advise and affect decision-making within their local health care systems. A growing body of evidence shows that in addition to transforming the culture of health care, putting patients in positions of genuine power and influence results in better-quality care. A report from Aligning Forces for Quality shares the experiences of five communities that are engaging consumers to improve ambulatory care. A recent Lessons Learned piece describes efforts made in the Humboldt County, Oregon, Minnesota, Maine, and South Central Pennsylvania alliances to incorporate consumer engagement into ambulatory quality improvement efforts. While each approach is different, each communities’ effort demonstrates that engaging patients across the continuum of quality improvement can help communities move toward a health care system that delivers high-quality, patient-centered care.

Making a Difference: One Patient at a Time

Aligning Forces for Quality (AF4Q) in Cincinnati, led by the Health Collaborative, is proving that patient engagement can lead to better health outcomes. The Alliance is a leading force in the movement toward patient-centered medical homes (PCMHs), and patient engagement is a cornerstone of their model. The collaborative’s PCMH efforts have contributed to an increase in the rates of optimal diabetes care in publicly reporting practices by 7 percent and a reduction in the rates of self-reported smoking in publicly reporting practices by 5 percent in the Cincinnati region. Additionally, when done right, the results show fewer serious episodes and hospitalizations, and better quality of life. All of these factors contribute toward lowering the cost of health care for patients and their communities. Read more about how Cincinnati is capitalizing on patient engagement here.

Getting Back to the Basics to Prevent Heart Disease

A program in Detroit is uniting a community by engaging patients and teaching them to fight the number-one killer in America, heart disease. Aligning Forces for Quality (AF4Q) Detroit, headed by the Greater Detroit Area Health Council (GDAHC), launched its Cardiac Disease Prevention Exercise Program in partnership with local primary care physicians and a local health club. The free program provides participants with a comprehensive pre-and post-program assessment, educational sessions, and a personalized workout program. To be eligible for the program, patients must identify with one or more risk factors: obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes or hypercholesterolemia, or family history of heart disease. Participants agree to attend six months of sessions held two times per week. “The benefits will go beyond improving the quality of life for the patients to reducing avoidable readmissions and medical expenses,” said Lisa Mason, vice president of cost quality for GDAHC. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), coronary heart disease costs the United States $108.9 billion each year. Read more about Detroit’s efforts here.

Aligning Forces for Quality (AF4Q) is the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s (RWJF) signature effort to lift the overall quality of health care in targeted communities, reduce racial and ethnic disparities in health care and provide models for national reform. Alliance teams represent the people who get care, give care, and pay for care.
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