Engaging patients in healthcare quality improvement and system redesign has become increasingly recognized as a key component of redesigning the U.S. health care system to support patient-centered, high-quality primary care due to the recognition that patients play an integral role in the improvement of quality and safety.
In an innovative program to engage patients in large-scale primary care transformation at UW Health—a large, academic health system in Madison, Wisconsin—patients were actively engaged in a process to redesign care at the team level, which was defined as a small care unit consisting of a care team (the doctor, nurses, and other clinicians), their panel of patients, and the core processes that produced the patterns and norms of the unit.
During this process Sarah Davis and Meg Gaines, in collaboration with UW Health and University of Wisconsin Medical Foundation, developed The Patient Engagement in Redesigning Care Toolkit to help strengthen the role of patients in designing health care delivery and quality improvements.
Specifically, it contains a Patient Partners Welcome Packet, intended for patients who will be participating in quality improvement activities, as well as a Patient Engagement Toolkit for Team Members, designed for hospital and clinic directors, managers, clinicians, and researchers who are interested in the framework and tools for engaging patients as partners in health system quality improvement and change initiatives.
Sarah Davis, Meg Gaines, and colleagues co-authored an article published this month in The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety titled “Engaging Patients at the Front Lines of Primary Care Redesign: Operational Lessons for an Effective Program,” which highlights this patient engagement program and the lessons learned during its implementation.
Engaging patients in health systems’ efforts to redesign care ensures that these efforts are most efficacious for patients. Patients offer a unique and valuable perspective as the users of health care, and in collaboration with other stakeholders can make improvements to how health care is delivered to benefit patients and providers alike.
The Center’s patient engagement work is one way we “work upstream” to prevent problems for future patients. “Individual advocacy is crucial to address real problems patients are facing right now,” according to Davis, “but if we could, we would prevent the problems from happening in the first place. Helping health systems engage patients in redesigning care is one way we work to do just that.”