Lessons Learned

Engaging Consumers to Improve Ambulatory Care

A growing number of quality improvement projects are enabling patients, families, and advocates to advise and affect decision-making within their local health care systems. A new report from Aligning Forces for Quality shares the experiences of five communities that are engaging consumers to improve ambulatory care. The programs profiled include:

  • Primary Care Renewal Program, Humboldt County, California;
  • Patients and Families as Leaders Program, Oregon Health Care Quality Corporation;
  • Institute for Clinical System Improvement’s Shared-Decision-Making Palliative Care Committee, Minnesota;
  • Patient-Centered Medical Home Pilot, Maine Quality Counts; and
  • Planned Care Collaborative, South Central Pennsylvania.

As these programs show, there is no single model for embedding patients in quality improvement initiatives. There are, however, some common themes across these efforts, including: address provider anxiety; start small, but start somewhere; integrate patient engagement into current improvement efforts; jump-start recruitment efforts by cultivating engaged patients; and engage now, save later.

Despite their different approaches, these varied projects all demonstrate that engaging consumers across the continuum of quality improvement can help communities move toward a health care system that delivers high-quality, patient-centered care.

Aligning Forces for Quality (AF4Q) is the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s signature effort to lift the overall quality of health care in targeted communities, as well as reduce racial and ethnic disparities and provide real models for national reform.

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