Bringing Consumers to the Table

What are the best practices for onboarding and involving consumers in governance and in practice improvement? A key component of Aligning Forces for Quality was engaging the people who get care—patients and their family members, consumers, and consumer representatives (generally referred to below as “consumers” for brevity)—in efforts to improve health and health care. Organizations of all types are recognizing that it is not enough merely to solicit opinions and feedback from patients and consumers—they must be meaningfully incorporated into the leadership of organizational design and governance to yield patient-centered policies and procedures. Consumer engagement had been a goal of AF4Q Alliances since the start of the program. Each Alliance was expected to include representation from people who “get care” along with those who “provide care and pay for care” on its leadership team. As consumer engagement activities spread, lessons learned from AF4Q Alliances can help answer questions about how to implement, expand, and strengthen consumer engagement practices in all efforts—including in governance and in direct practice quality improvement.


In this Spotlight Talk from the November 2014 ALIGN Summit, Jessica Osborne-Stafsnes describes the fits and starts of initiating a patient engagement program in the Humboldt Alliance.

In this compendium of resources, you’ll find a variety of tools that health care organizations in three communities have used in their efforts to engage patients. These tools can help you recruit, orient, and train patients; clarify roles and responsibilities; and put a structure in place to foster ongoing, productive relationships.

AF4Q Alliances have amassed a body of knowledge about effective strategies for engaging consumers in organizational leadership, which this brief highlights. 

This orientation toolkit was designed to assist Aligning Forces for Quality Alliances in building an onboarding toolkit for new consumers. Onboarding is a process used to orient new volunteers or staff to an organization. It typically includes a set of standard background materials and other relevant resources.

This chart describes the progressive levels of patient engagement used by one of the AF4Q Alliances.

This document outlines key competencies and core operations for Alliance project staff, including the project director and consumer engagement lead, who works with consumers and on consumer engagement goals.

This Health Affairs article offers some early lessons learned about consumer engagement. The Alliances’ ongoing and mindful inclusion of consumers provides insights into eliciting and applying their perspectives in the pursuit of improved health care quality, value, and transparency.

This Health Affairs article reviews the available evidence on patient-centered care, such as the positive effects of engaging patients in quality improvement activities. The experiences of the AF4Q Alliances illustrate that actively engaging patients in improving ambulatory care improves provider-patient communication, identifies and avoids potential challenges to new services, and improves provider and patient satisfaction.