Prepare for Problems

Documenting and sharing impact that resonates with stakeholders can help counteract common barriers and challenges, particularly in the practice setting. Although stakeholder pushback and implementation challenges occur, Aligning Forces communities have learned effective ways to respond to and overcome them. These lessons can help others shape their efforts and smooth the path to success.



Consumers may not be familiar with technical information.

Consumers have a role to play in every area, even those viewed as technical. Recruit consumers interested in the topic area.

Providers fear revealing practice shortcomings to patients will backfire.

Transparency helps patients better understand constraints; they offer suggestions that help.

Retaining engaged consumers is a challenge.

Many who engage want to know they are valued and are making a difference. Close the feedback loop, and reflect upon achievements. Ongoing efforts to maintain a “level playing field” among stakeholders, camaraderie (e.g., meals), and compensation for expenses can be powerful messages that consumers are valued partners.

Stakeholders seek a “rubber stamp” from consumers rather than authentic impact.

Consumers can provide a reality check, providing a window to how the broader audience or community would receive the proposed process or program, and thereby saving time and money.

Support from senior leadership is lacking.

Approach consumer engagement as a small test of change (e.g., Plan-Do-Study-Act). If implemented properly, results can support adoption.

Time constraints exist.

Engaging consumers does take time and effort, but doing so can save time and improve staff satisfaction by preventing implementation of ineffective policies or procedures that both cause consternation and may need to be reversed.

There is a perceived lack of value.

Early examples demonstrate improvement in patient experience scores. Practices with financial incentives tied to patient experience may especially benefit. Although isolating the impact of consumer engagement on health outcomes has been difficult, patient-centered changes to care may improve care processes and related patient outcomes.