February 2015 | Patient Engagement
Thursday, February 19, 2015
Upcoming Webinar: Tools for Engaging Patients in Quality Improvement

Patients want care that helps them manage their health and achieve their goals. In addition to improving patient health, medical practices are also working to improve care, and to meet patient needs. Several communities participating in the Aligning Forces for Quality initiative have combined those perspectives into a collaborative partnership, in which medical practices, patients and families work together to improve care. These communities have launched and implemented pioneering efforts and realized clear benefits from the collaborative partnerships they have created.

With increased national emphasis on both quality improvement and patient-centered care, this challenging, worthwhile work signals a key future strategy for improving healthcare and health. To capture and disseminate the lessons from these communities, AF4Q supported the creation of a patient-engagement toolkit. This free toolkit, which features videos and resources to help medical practices and patients work together to improve care, is a practical, hands-on resource for practices interested in establishing provider-patient partnerships for quality improvement.

Aligning Forces for Quality will host a free webinar on Wednesday, March 25, 1:00-2:00 PM ET,  highlighting the Patient Engagement Toolkit. The webinar will feature provider, patient and program representatives from Aligning Forces communities and provide an overview of the toolkit materials. The content is intended for medical providers, practice staff, representatives of regional health improvement collaboratives, and health care consumer advocates—anyone interested in learning how patients and providers can partner to improve care at the practice level. Find information on the webinar here.

A Collaborative Approach to Health Care on the Redwood Coast

If there’s a single through-line running across all the initiatives in the Humboldt AF4Q Alliance, it’s putting the patient at the center of the reform and renewal process. The Primary Care Renewal Collaborative is one of the prongs of a wide-ranging patient care improvement initiative the Humboldt County medical community has launched under Aligning Forces for Quality. In addition to the Primary Care Renewal Collaborative, those patient-centered efforts include Our Pathways to Health, a self-management initiative for patients with chronic illness, such as COPD, diabetes, and heart failure, based on a curriculum developed at Stanford by Kate Lorig.

“This is hard work,” and you have to be prepared for it, says Janina Shayne, who was a patient partner in an internal medicine practice. “You have to try to breach the walls of the medical establishment. We’re saying, ‘Come out of your culture and look at ours—ours meaning patients!’” The main thing she’s seen change since taking a seat at the table are “issues of tone and communication,” with the result that frontline staff “became more human.”

Maine: Expectations Shape Behavior

The Maine AF4Q Alliance knows expectations shape behavior. So, when Maine Quality Counts and its partners launched a Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) collaborative effort with 26 primary care and pediatric practices, they set 10 core expectations for all participating practices. One of these expectations was of patient engagement—that each practice would actively engage patients and family members in quality improvement efforts. Some practices have formed patient advisory groups, while others have addressed the expectation in other ways. As Maine's PCMH efforts have expanded—more than 100 practices are now involved in a PCMH learning collaborative—the expectations remain, and patient engagement becomes embedded in primary care throughout the state.

“The best way out of fragmented care is how we broker the architecture of care coordination,” said Dr. Barbara Crowley of Maine General Health.

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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