Quality Forum 2017: Increasing Patient Participation

Tiffany Christensen, Patient Engagement Specialist, shares her personal story at the Quality Forum on Thursday (March 2).

Unless you have been very busy and purposefully ignoring your social media feeds, and you also work in the health sector in British Columbia, you probably know that today is the first official day of the 2017 BC Quality Forum.

The Quality Forum has grown over six years to become a place to imagine and share ideas on what the future of healthcare could be or become in B.C., and this year the conference sold out fast. More than 900 people from all over the province are in attendance today, and what is guaranteed is that healthcare providers, administrators, patient partners and family caregivers will be meeting new people, learning new and interesting approaches to healthcare, and having opportunities to share their experiences.

This year’s Quality Forum was preceded this year by the Patients as Partners’ 2017 Annual Provincial Dialogue (where we had the pleasure of organizing and facilitating the event) and the Pre-Forum Day in partnership with the Joint Collaborative Committees and the First Nations Health Authority.

Improving quality of care is the focus of Quality Forum’s objectives, but what is very encouraging for all of us at Engage Delaney is to see that patient- and family-centered care (PFCC) and patient and family engagement are increasingly seen as a central element in the journey to improved quality of care.

Today (Thursday, March 2) started with keynote speaker Tiffany Christensen, a lung transplant survivor and Patient Engagement Specialist with the North Carolina Quality Center. Her personal story vividly mapped the journey of one patient who frequently interacted with the health system and encountered disappointment, fear, lack of understanding – but also discovered the importance of patient and family engagement and patient activation.

The day then continued with breakout sessions on the importance of family presence in patient recovery, health authorities’ commitment to and specific examples of patient- and family-centered care, and rethinking the “patient engagement” evaluation. Patient partners and family caregivers have also been recruited to attend the Forum in great numbers, and it is wonderful to meet them in breakout sessions, and hear their voices.

One take-away for me, personally, is that now that patients and family caregivers are becoming more involved in shaping the future of our healthcare system, there is an increased need for health literacy – education and information required for patient partners and family caregivers to be better prepared to take on an effective and active role. Will this be a topic addressed in one of the sessions at the 2018 Quality Forum? I hope so.