The Center was founded on the belief that to improve healthcare quality, there must be systems and standards for meaningful patient-provider interaction. These changes must be fought for by both patients and the healthcare system itself.
Martha “Meg” Gaines, a law professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, transformed her own experience as a cancer survivor into a model for consumer-centered patient advocacy. She quickly recognized the educational potential for this type of advocacy—a vision of patients getting help and future medical professionals providing the help they need. Working with colleagues from the schools of medicine, nursing, and public administration, Meg founded the Center for Patient Partnerships in 2000 to make this vision a reality.
Our logo depicts a sailboat. We see advocacy as the vessel and the patient as its captain. As patients, we would never dream of leaving the shore without a first-rate crew. Usually, at the helm, the seas are steady and days pass uneventfully. However, diagnosis troubles the waters. Dangerous seas loom as we face a long and billowy journey through a confusing system. We need the help of our crew to reach safe shores. When we can no longer steer, we turn over the helm. We hit the deck to help the crew or go below to seek shelter from the storm.
The patient is always the captain of this ship. No matter who is at the helm currently, at the end of the day, all decisions that affect our care are ours to make. We rely on the knowledge, expertise, and counsel of our crew in reaching those decisions. The Center for Patient Partnerships exists as a star chart, a compass. We help captains choose destinations, identify crews and plan routes for their healthcare journeys. As part of this process, the Center trains navigators, engineers and first mates for the 21st century.