Last week we gave out the Patients’ Choice Awards in Sarnia for the fourth time. This is a pretty good time to take stock. How has the Canadian healthcare environment changed since Patients Canada was founded in 2011? Perhaps the most critical thing to say is that the fear that patient partnerships are the flavor of the month seems to be diminishing; it looks like the movement to bring patients as partners in healthcare is growing stronger every month. Canadian patients are involved in many different ways. Critical healthcare organizations have taken patient partnerships on in a systematic way. Here are a few of the changes that we have experienced since we began.
Our very first activity as a patient group was to join a standing committee of a hospital that had spent some years implementing Patient -Centred Care. We were the first patient members. We were soon asked to join a research group to develop a program for housebound diabetics. At the meeting, it emerged that our role was to approve of their draft program so that it could be submitted with patient approval. At that time no one knew what patient-centred care really was and some groups had spent years defining its terms.
We decided very early on that we would not worry about the definition. Instead we would immerse ourselves in patients’ experiences and work in collaboration with the system. Our goal was to create and sustain patient partnerships in healthcare. Our first project was developed in cooperation with the Ontario Medical Association. The idea was that patients would write letters of nomination for doctors who were especially patient-friendly. The winners of these Patients’ Choice Awards would be selected by an all-patient jury and a certificate would be given to the winning doctor signed by the Presidents of our two organizations. Since then, we have given out over 30 plaques to doctors across Ontario with the support of the OMA.
This project was critical to our understanding of our role. It was a collaborative effort and it was based on the experiences that people had with the healthcare system. All our work since then has had these same two elements.
Our most recent project is the development and application of Key Performance Targets (KPTs). I have described some of them in the last few weeks and will present more in the coming weeks. The KPTs are all based on actual experiences that patients have had. They are developed by a panel of patients and health professionals, researchers and managers. They have been instrumental in the contributions we make with our healthcare partners. Last year we joined with the Canadian Institutes for Health Research’s effort to develop patient partnerships in research. We are partners in a five-year project in which researchers will work ever more closely with patients to devise and carry on health research. More recently we became part of an American-funded grant from the Patient-Centred Outcomes Research Institute – an organization with $3 Billion to engage in research with patient partners.
Just last week we worked with other patients and patient groups to revise and strengthen Accreditation Canada’s next iteration of a far more patient-centred accreditation process for Canadian hospitals and healthcare organizations. We also provided a training session for patients and providers to help everyone see the value of the patient perspective. All our contributions are based on our growing collection of patient experiences. The changes that are derived from them will not go away so easily. It looks like patient partnerships are here to stay.
Next week: more KPTs.