How do I build and cultivate relationships with consumers engaged in our program?

Being versatile is important

 
Engaging consumers helps to ensure that all of a community’s needs and views are represented. Creating a successful consumer environment can seem daunting, but there are several universal methods.
 
Common ground. What goals or interests do you share with the consumer? Organizations must be able to articulate the value proposition of a consumer’s involvement. Show them how their involvement will make an impact. Be specific. AF4Q “Bright Spots” are a treasure trove of examples.
 
Dialogue. Take advantage of opportunities for discussion between consumers and other stakeholders and staff. Having consumers in your organization can increase the odds for sustainability. Emphasize that! 
 
Integration. Look for opportunities to place consumers in various roles with other stakeholders to goal plan and execute strategies. One AF4Q hospital included consumer leaders in changes to discharge planning. Be creative; be thoughtful.
 
You’ve now built the relationship; maintaining it is next. 
 
Use technology. Consumers may not have daily involvement in health care. Meet them in their own domain to sustain their involvement. Not every technology will be right for every consumer, so be versatile. Social media can be a great way to keep them engaged. 
 
Meaningful participation. Identify ways to engage consumers within the organization and the overall community. Consumers can help in many ways:
Consumer advisory panels/workgroups give the patient perspective on initiatives.
Planning community events.
Organizing patient empowerment training sessions.
 
Feedback. Offer consumers opportunities to give input about their experiences.  A Consumer Engagement Survey is a great place to start.