How do practice coaches work with patient partners (patients who are engaged in QI efforts) to improve ambulatory care?

Learn from AF4Q Alliances’ pioneering work.

There is now evidence that including patients as part of ambulatory redesign leads to better outcomes. A systematic review of 40 quality improvement initiatives found that engaging patients in QI efforts led to concrete service changes: improving appointment access, enhancing support mechanisms for patients with chronic illness, and improving clinic work flows.  
AF4Q Alliances are on the forefront of building the capacity to include patients as part of outpatient redesign. Humboldt County and South Central Pennsylvania operate projects in which patient volunteers and their primary care physicians and practice staff work together on quality improvement teams. The practices use a detailed job description to identify patients.  Patient partners undergo an orientation to establish expectations, introduce QI methodology, and learn techniques for working effectively as a team. 
The practice coach has a unique role in ensuring that the patient partner is working effectively at the practice level. Humboldt County uses a collaborative coaching model in which the patient partner is supported by both the program coordinator and the practice coach assigned to that practice. Part of a practice coach’s dashboard or registry should include an assessment of the level of function of the practice coach to ensure that the patient partner is an effective member of the practice QI team.
Compiled by Jen Powell, an AF4Q technical advisor working with the Improving Performance in Practice (IPIP) Technical Support Team. 
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