Where should I incorporate consumers into my practice or hospital?
Learn from AF4Q examples.
There are many ways to include consumers in the day-to-day work of quality improvement. Learn from some examples, and don’t be afraid to get creative.
Put consumers into positions of authority.
The South Central Pennsylvania Alliance’s Patient Partner Program ensures patients with chronic disease have a voice in local practices’ transition to patient-centered medical homes. Patients are integrated into each practice’s team to ensure that the patient perspective is represented throughout the transition—and reflected in changes. Among other duties, they examine patient flow and examine how well practices manage diabetes patients by tracking the frequency of patient visits for A1c tests. As a result, practices have improved by 10 percent results for some patients.
A Cincinnati hospital’s Patient Family Council, comprised of former patients and their family members, meets monthly to discuss issues including the discharge process. The meetings have greatly enhanced communication and understanding between patients and staff. Patient satisfaction scores from the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) have improved: the “communication with nurses” score rose from 69 percent to 88 percent, and “would definitely recommend the hospital” moved from 64 percent to 81 percent.
Start disease self-management and community empowerment programs.
“Pathways to Health” in Humboldt County, CA, is a six-week workshop that teaches patients and caregivers how to make better health care decisions and form partnerships with providers. “The goal is for people to participate in their own healing, effectively,” says Toni Martin, a patient. Participants are now hospitalized less, seek fewer doctor appointments, and save $4 for every $1 they spend in care.
In Western New York, Community Conversations allows consumers to choose which social determinants of health to focus on in their communities and provides opportunities to initiate projects that make neighborhoods more healthy, livable, and safe. Among their projects, the group has started an afterschool basketball program and is developing an events calendar to help improve lifestyle habits.
What to do Next?