Bringing Value-Based Perspectives to Care: Including Patient and Family Members in Decision-Making Processes

Document Type : Original Article


1 Primary Health Care, Nova Scotia Health Authority, Halifax, NS, Canada

2 Diabetes Management Centre, Primary Health Care, Nova Scotia Health Authority, Halifax, NS, Canada

3 Public Engagement, Nova Scotia Health Authority, Halifax, NS, Canada

4 Behaviour Change Institute, Primary Health Care, Nova Scotia Health Authority, Halifax, NS, Canada

5 Dalhousie Family Medicine, Halifax, NS, Canada

6 Endocrinology, Nova Scotia Health Authority, Halifax, NS, Canada

7 General Internal Medicine, Nova Scotia Health Authority, Halifax, NS, Canada

8 Canadian Foundation Healthcare Improvement, Ottawa, ON, Canada


Recent evidence shows that patient engagement is an important strategy in achieving a high performing healthcare system. While there is considerable evidence of implementation initiatives in direct care context, there is limited investigation of implementation initiatives in decision-making context as it relates to program planning, service delivery and developing policies. Research has also shown a gap in consistent application of system-level strategies that can effectively translate organizational policies around patient and family engagement into practice.
The broad objective of this initiative was to develop a system-level implementation strategy to include patient and family advisors (PFAs) at decision-making points in primary healthcare (PHC) based on wellestablished evidence and literature. In this opportunity sponsored by the Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement (CFHI) a co-design methodology, also well-established was applied in identifying and developing a suitable implementation strategy to engage PFAs as members of quality teams in PHC. Diabetes management centres (DMCs) was selected as the pilot site to develop the strategy. Key steps in the process included review of evidence, review of the current state in PHC through engagement of key stakeholders and a co-design approach.
The project team included a diverse representation of members from the PHC system including patient advisors, DMC team members, system leads, providers, Public Engagement team members and CFHI improvement coaches. Key outcomes of this 18-month long initiative included development of a working definition of patient and family engagement, development of a Patient and Family Engagement Resource Guide and evaluation of the resource guide.
This novel initiative provided us an opportunity to develop a supportive system-wide implementation plan and a strategy to include PFAs in decision-making processes in PHC. The well-established co-design methodology further allowed us to include value-based (customer driven quality and experience of care) perspectives of several important stakeholders including patient advisors. The next step will be to implement the strategy within DMCs, spread the strategy PHC, both locally and provincially with a focus on sustainability.


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  • Receive Date: 16 July 2016
  • Revise Date: 30 November 2016
  • Accept Date: 20 February 2017
  • First Publish Date: 01 November 2017