Quality improvement teams at physician practices generate gains from including patient partners in the efforts.
Including patient representatives in quality improvement efforts at physician practices benefits both the patient partners and the practices, according to research being published next month.
For patient partners, three quarters of those surveyed reported that they were better advocates for their own healthcare, two thirds reported being more in tune with their health, and more than half reported that being a patient partner improved their caregiving for family members.
For physician practices, 8 out of 10 quality improvement team leaders surveyed reported that patient partners made improvement efforts more patient-centered, 43% of respondents reported that patient partners impacted the implementation of new policies and initiatives, and 35% of respondents reported that patient partners had made suggestions to improve practice communication with patients.
The research, which is being published in The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety, is based on data collected from 2011 to 2016, mainly from patient partners and quality improvement team leaders. The data includes focus groups, in-depth interviews, and online surveys.
The primary focus of the research, titled "How Patient Partners Influence Quality Improvement Efforts," is the patient partner program at Aligning Forces for Quality-South Central Pennsylvania. AF4Q SCPA is a healthcare improvement organization originally funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and supported now by WellSpan Provider Network, an ACO where most of the AF4Q SCPA patient partners volunteer.
In 2011, AF4Q SCPA started its patient partner program with 14 volunteers in seven physician practices. Last year, there were 77 patient partners working with 45 practices.
Christopher Cheney is the senior clinical care editor at HealthLeaders.