The momentum for including the public in the work to improve healthcare is gaining speed.
A bit of history
Around 2010 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.
In research, we started to see patient partners on research teams promoted by the Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research (SPOR). Read more.
Some disease-based organizations have had active groups of patients for years. Some examples, HIV/AIDs, and mental health.
Around 2018, the term “patient partner” becoming more widely used for PFAs.
We can learn from each other. And we can help embed the practice of involving the public in working toward a better future for the health and wellness of Canadians.
The Practices of Patient Engagement
Traditionally when hospitals, health authorities and other healthcare organizations involve patient partners, they create
- a pool of patient and family advisors (patient partners)
- a Patient and Family Advisors Council (PFAC)
- or both a pool and PFAC
And they dedicate patient engagement staff to recruit, manage and assign the patient partners.
This is the practice of engaging patients.
For patient partners and the healthcare partners they collaborate with, their focus is the work they do together. This can be project work where there are a couple of patient partners on the team. Or it can be the PFAC or council where projects are brought to the council for consultation.
This is the practice of collaborating as a patient partner with healthcare partners.
To support these collaborations, the healthcare partners may be trained by the patient engagement professionals.
PAN was formed to provide a place for current and potential patient partners to support and learn from each other about the practice of collaborating.
This is the practice of fostering an engagement ready environment.
Patient engagement professionals may advise their organization on policies to support patient engagement. They may also educate decision-makers and those collaborating directly with patient advisors.