Patients become ‘significant new voice in health planning’
September 4, 2012
AHS employs new model to improve delivery of health care
Story by Jennifer de Vries; Photo by Paul Rotzinger
Marlyn Gill was feeling frustrated with her own experiences in getting treated for severe osteoarthritis.
Enrolling in the patient engagement researcher program – a program recruiting current and former patients to help improve the delivery of health care in Alberta – gave her the opportunity to become part of the solution.
“I had just hit another bump in the road for treatment of my osteoarthritis and was looking for somewhere to vent my frustrations online. But I found something better; something more positive,” says Gill.
“Getting involved in patient engagement research has allowed me to move into the control seat where I can be involved in results that will reflect what it is really like to suffer from osteoarthritis. The really exciting part of this is that, as an osteoarthritis sufferer, I can be certain the results will reflect the reality of having osteoarthritis, as opposed to a reality assumed by well-meaning professionals.”
Once trained, individuals such as Gill become ‘patient engagement researchers’ and become formal members of teams, called strategic clinical networks (SCNs), comprised of health care professionals, researchers, community leaders and policy makers.
SCNs are working to reshape health care in different areas of health that will enhance the patient journey, improve outcomes and standardize care delivery across the province.
“Patients and their families have used the health care system and know what has and has not worked for them. The goal is to capture and learn from these shared stories and experiences to help improve the overall patient experience for all Albertans,” says Tracy Wasylak, AHS Vice- President of Strategic Clinical Networks and Clinical Care Pathways.
The two-year pilot project is now entering its second year. There are currently 11 patient engagement researchers working with AHS’ six strategic clinical networks, which are dedicated to improving the delivery of care in the areas of seniors’ health; cancer care; cardiovascular health and stroke; addiction and mental health; bone and joint health; and obesity, nutrition and diabetes.
The patient engagement researchers, using their own experiences, will solicit information from other patients and families through surveys, interviews and focus groups in order to determine a way to deliver care that improves the patient experience.
The current patient engagement researchers will publish their research findings next year through the University of Calgary Press.
“A patient as a researcher has first-hand knowledge of our health care system and can introduce new ways to understand and capture a patient’s experience,” says Dr. Nancy Marlett, professor of Community Rehabilitation and Disability Studies and member of the Institute for Public Health at the University of Calgary.
“Working with the SCNs, patients are going to become a significant new voice in health planning and health promotion.”
Patient engagement researcher training resumes in September 2012 in both Calgary and Edmonton. To learn more about getting involved contact Dr. Svetlana Shklarov at firstname.lastname@example.org or 403-220-5383
Or visit www.bit.ly/PatientsMatter