It’s a sign of progress that so many of us in the healthcare field are talking about and addressing issues related to patient and family engagement: what it means, why it matters, and how it can positively affect experiences of care, health outcomes, and healthcare costs. Now is the time to concentrate on how we work together strategically to advance patient and family engagement research and practice across the healthcare spectrum.
To jumpstart that process, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, with assistance from the American Institutes for Research, have released A Roadmap for Patient + Family Engagement in Healthcare Practice and Research at www.patientfamilyengagement.org. The roadmap builds on the contributions of more than 70 individuals and nearly 60 organizations, and lays out a vision for moving towards a healthcare system that truly places patients and families in the center of every decision. Fundamental to the achievement of that vision are eight change strategies that identify the various ways in which we can partner with patients and families in making decisions about health and healthcare; shaping the organization, design, and delivery of care; and developing and implementing the public policies that affect healthcare.
For each strategy, the roadmap offers examples of tactics that can be implemented in the short-term as well as over a longer horizon. These wide-ranging tactics run the gamut from ensuring that patients have access to and the ability to edit their medical records, to training clinicians and staff to partner with patients and families, to involving patients and families in the design and conduct of healthcare research, to ensuring that patients and families partner with healthcare organizations in developing and implementing new policies and practices. To aid in assessing progress, the roadmap lists a set of milestones that clarify the intended outcomes of each strategy.
While we may all appreciate the need for strategic change, we also know that it can be daunting. The roadmap confronts this dilemma by suggesting ways to start small and yet create meaningful change. It offers a list of five tangible actions that various stakeholders—patients and families, clinicians, leaders of healthcare organizations, policymakers, insurers, employers, and researchers—can take to move us all a step closer to the vision of patients and families truly engaged in healthcare with the goal of improving health outcomes, lowering healthcare costs, and improving experiences of care. Partnering with patients and families is crucial for all groups, from policy makers and organization leaders all the way down to the individual clinician.
Finally, the roadmap offers us all a way to become part of a nationwide community of stakeholders in patient and family engagement by joining in making a public commitment to bringing about change. We have made a commitment as an organization to move towards greater inclusion of patients in our work, seen on the commitments page.