Week 6 reflection and 'thank you'
Thank you for completing this final week of the course.
In this week our objective was to highlight the critical role that patients and the public might play in assisting and enriching the process of healthcare improvement. While patient involvement is a difficult process to manage and may not be high on the agenda of policy makers or clinicians, as the contributors to this week have shown, it can make a difference. To recap, we have considered three broad topics.
First, we introduced you to some wider debates about public and patient involvement in health-care services. We saw how this involvement could take on various forms, ranging from professionals (such as doctors or nurses) offering information to the public at one end of the spectrum to the public (or users) themselves having greater decision-making powers. As Professor Rick Iedema from Monash University explained, public and patient involvement has become increasingly important for two reasons: a) the demand from citizens, consumers and taxpayers to have a greater say in how their public services are ran and; b) a belief in the practical benefits of consulting users to improve services. We also saw how, despite growing support for public and patient involvement, questions have been raised about its feasibility and effectiveness.
A second topic explored in this week related to what has come to be known as co-production and co-design. This is rooted in the idea that patients and professionals are both agents in the creation of health services and that improved outcomes come from maximising partnership and joint working. As we heard in the interview with Dr Lynne Mahler, this approach has gained popularity in recent years. We also saw, from the example of the NHS in Birmingham (England) how many healthcare improvement initiatives are making explicit use of ‘experience-based co-design’ methods.
Lastly, we looked at some emerging issues and challenges associated with co-production and patient involvement. These included the use of social media and the question of how far it might be possible to involve patients in the commissioning of services. You also saw an example from Singapore (Care Connect) of how hospitals could use involvement techniques to educate patients and staff to fundamentally change the way services are used and accessed.
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We would like to express our thanks to you, the learners, for joining us over the last six weeks, and for all your valuable and insightful communications.
From the whole team, and myself (Professor Ian Kirkpatrick), thank you!
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