The Ministry of Health Patient as Partners program was honored by the International Association of Public Participation with the 2016 Canadian Organization of the Year Award recognizing the ministry for its leading practices in public and patient engagement.
Patients as Partners is a Ministry of Health program and philosophy that brings together patients, families, caregivers, health-care providers, not-for-profits, non-governmentorganizations and universities. These partners work together to include the patient’s voice, choices and representation in health care improvements. By actively working with patients, families, caregivers from within the health-care system, the program is able to support and encourage patient’s participation in:
- Their own care;
- Decision-making about that care;
- Choosing their level of participation in decision-making;
- Quality improvement; and
- Health-care redesign.
The program uses public engagement best practices and principles to initiate improvements to health care in British Columbia. Additionally, it supports the strategic and operational priorities outlined in the document “Setting Priorities for the B.C. Health System.” This work includes providing self-management supports that enable patients to better manage chronic conditions.
A transformation has occurred that places the focus on patient-centered care and resulted in a system that is actively listening to, and reflecting the needs of, the people it is built to serve ‒ the patients.
Go to the Patients as Partners website to obtain regularly updated information on events and publications.
The Patients as Partners program was first introduced in 2007 in the Primary Health Care Charter as a way “to support the central role of patients as partners in their own care.” While there had previously been patient involvement in health care improvements, it had not been a distinct program. In 2010, the program officially began. Through collaborative discussions with numerous partners, the goals, vision and philosophy of the program were developed. By 2013, the scope was expanded from primary health care to integrated primary and community care.
- Over 40,000 patients have been engaged;
- Close to 800 health-care workers have been trained in best practices for patient engagement; and
- More than 100 health organizations partnered with the Patients as Partners program.
The program has helped connect patients with a number of positive health care improvements by working with organizations such as:
- Pain BC, which improves the lives of people in pain through educational programs and information for patients and health-care providers.
- The Intercultural Online Health Network, a community-driven health-care project that provides culturally appropriate chronic disease prevention and management information for patients and families living in multicultural communities.
- Self-Management British Columbia, which provides education and chronic disease management programs to increase patients’ skills and confidence in handling their own medical, role and emotional management.
- Family Caregivers of British Columbia, which improves the quality of life for family caregivers by providing a Caregiver Support Line, education for family caregivers and health professionals, and by engaging caregivers to collaborate with the health sector.
Input leads to action:
Some of the key milestones that have been achieved through the Patients as Partners program:
- Three improvement charters were developed: Individual Care including Self-Management, Bringing in the Community and System Redesign, as outlined in the First Annual Report;
- Developed the Patient Voices Network;
- Developed a Self-Management Support Framework, a Patient and Public Participation Framework, and established collaborative committees and efforts with organizations including health authorities, Doctors of BC, non-governmental agencies, universities and the public; and
- Highlighted our many partners’ achievements in our Patients as Partners Annual Reports and Dialogue Reports.
- The Health Council of Canada recognized Patients as Partners as a promising practice: “One that illustrates three aspects of patient engagement—policy influence, cultural change, and a methodology to improve practice” and that asks “Could patient engagement be the catalyst to move primary care to the next level?”
- Patients as Partners received an honourable mention in the category of Innovation for the 2010 Ministry of Health Celebrating our Successes Awards.
- The Patients as Partners program, along with its partner organizations and the public, was recognized for real changes towards patient-centered care in the publication Connecting to Community: BC’s profound healthcare shift by Telus Talks.
- The Change Foundation thinktank in Ontario recognized that B.C. is ‘clearing a patient-centered trail’ and invited ministry Patients as Partners and partner organizations to provide their perspectives at a Hot Talks on Health.