Engagement at a Glance

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The momentum for including the public in the work to improve healthcare is gaining speed.

About 5 years ago in Canada, we started to see Patient and Family Advisors (PFAs) at local hospitals become popular. Resident and Family Councils have been in place in long term care facilities in many provinces and territories for even longer.  And more recently we see citizen councils at local health authorities, at quality councils, at health professional bodies and other types of health organizations.

Some disease-based organizations have had active groups of patients for years. Some examples, HIV/AIDs and mental health.

We can learn from each other. And we can help embed the practice of involving the public working toward a better future for the health and wellness of Canadians.

Structures of Patient Engagement

Advisors are invited by healthcare organizations to join in the work to improve healthcare. Here are the two main models for how advisors are managed.

The Main Type of Patient Engagement

Patient Engagement Type 1In many cases, healthcare organizations have a "Patient Engagement" person or group. It may have another name, but this is what it does.

This patient engagement team:

  -  recruits advisors
  -  orients them to the organization
  -  prepares the staff to work with advisors
  -  supports staff and advisors 
  -  takes requests from internal working groups
  -  assigns advisors within the organization.

The pool of advisors are for the sole use of the organization.

A Secondary Type of Patient EngagementPatient Engagement Type 2

Some organizations pull together a roster of advisors and make their advisors available to other organizations or groups. These organizations do all the patient engagement functions on behalf of their "clients". 

In British Columbia, the Patient Voices Network administered by the BC Patient Safety & Quality Council, is a good example of this. It provides advisors on request for many healthcare organizations and groups throughout BC.

The Patients for Patients Safety Canada, run by the Canadian Patient Safety Institute is another example where the pool of advisors is used for healthcare "clients". It provides advisors for various patient safety initiatives across Canada.




Learn More about Engagement

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Search for our resources on various sub categories of engagement.


About patient/caregiver involvement in the healthcare system

Documents, research and reports about patient and caregiver involvement in the healthcare system influencing policy, practice and programs.

Better Together is the Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement (CFHI) Partnering with Families campaign to open up visiting hours for families.  Families are more than visitors, they can be essential to their loved one's care.  Read more.

Consumers Health Forum of Australia https://chf.org.au/

This government funded organization has its origins in the 1980s, as a collective for community and patient groups to advise the government on health issues. Nowadays it is very much involved in patient engagement throughout healthcare. Some of their work is policy-directed. Take a look at their newsletter “Consumers Shaping Health” to see what issues are attracting the most attention in people-system interactions.

"The Consumers Health Forum of Australia (CHF) is the national peak body representing the interests of Australian healthcare consumers. CHF works to achieve safe, quality, timely healthcare for all Australians, supported by accessible health information and systems.”


Patient Advisors: How to implement a process for involvement at all levels of governance in a healthcare organization is an article published in the Patient Experience Journal of the Beryl Institute.  It is written by some researchers in Quebec who are doing some really interesting work in this area. http://pxjournal.org/journal/vol3/iss2/15/


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