Books

June 2017
A Review of Patient Engagement: Catalyzing Improvement and Innovation in Healthcare

Comprehensive, Innovative, and Concise Case Examples

Ross Baker and colleagues can consistently be counted on to provide progressive, useful insights into partnerships with patients and community members. In Patient Engagement: Catalyzing Improvement and Innovation in Healthcare, the editors provide comprehensive, innovative, and concise case examples of organizations that illuminate strategic patient partnerships. The case study sites are healthcare organizations in a range of countries, sizes, scope, services offered, and engagement actions taken. Healthcare leaders from varied sites will find lessons that they can relate to. 

In my long history of striving toward patient and family partnerships in healthcare, making it a reality throughout an organization has been a persistent problem. This book offers insights and actions that leaders have taken to make partnerships a reality. It aids in seeing clearly beyond our current condition of being stuck in “it’s a nice thing to do” or “we’ll do it when we have some time” to a strategic imperative. Moving from a project mindset to a pervasive, strategic cultural commitment is evident in all the case studies. Those committed to meaningful partnerships to transform healthcare will find the latest work an essential resource in their journey. 

In the chapter Creating “Engagement-Capable Environments” in Healthcare, Dr. Baker and colleagues set the stage for reading the case studies by explaining that there are three levels where engagement is possible and required; providing definitions of patient engagement that move beyond parental benevolence; and offering a highly useful, practical model for patient and family engagement. In addition, they have identified three core processes of engagement-capable environments – enlisting and preparing patients, engaging staff to involve patients, and ensuring leadership support and strategic focus. Finally, they have collected a rich array of strategies and their impact in a highly useful table. The model, core processes, and table offer a guide to any setting embarking on partnerships or wanting to strengthen and spread their current efforts. This chapter alone is worth reading this book. 

The consistent format of the case studies offers a cross-organization view for those committed to moving forward. They begin with an organizational background that aids in linking the case to the readers’ setting or situation. For example, Kingston General Hospital provides a compelling example for any healthcare organization facing financial, clinical quality, community engagement, and staff morale issues. Many can relate to leaders facing powerful problems in search of unique solutions to resolve issues fast. They show how partnerships with patients, families, and community members in every decision affecting them can be the key to solving seemingly intractable problems. 

The case studies then briefly describe their definition and scope of patient engagement, key strategies and resulting impact. All of these points are summarized in the Appendix. The editors clearly acknowledge that a full array of impact measures, while growing, is still in development. This growing area of measurement and research will add even more to the compelling case, beyond being the right thing to do, to why partnerships are a requirement to assure better health, better healthcare, lower costs, and joy in work. 

What I eagerly await is a subsequent companion volume that taps into the struggles these impressive organizations faced and vanquished to get to their current strategic engagement levels. Anyone who has tackled culture change of any type, let alone moving to full partnerships and changing the balance of power with patients, knows of the reluctance and even fear of some of our colleagues. We need rich stories of “here was how tough it was and how we moved beyond those rough spots.” These stories can offer hope to those deep in the struggle to change persistently held beliefs. 

This volume is a highly valuable resource for the many who are courageous leaders in patient partnerships to transform healthcare. 

About the Author

Barbara Balik, EdD, MS, RN, Partner, Aefina Partners, Albuquerque, New Mexico

References

Patient Engagement: Catalyzing Improvement and Innovation in Healthcare 
Edited by G. Ross Baker, Maria Judd and Christine Maika
Longwoods Publishing Corporation. ISBN: 978-0-9810089-8-1 (paperback); 978-0-9810089-9-8 (pdf), 118 pp.

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