This article, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), appeared in a special issue of Health Affairs that focused on patient engagement. The issue was supported by RWJF, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, and the California HealthCare Foundation.
The practice of patient-centered care remains in its developmental stages—hampered, in part, by limited evidence of its effectiveness. In this article the researchers first reviewed available evidence on patient-centered care, such as the positive effects of engaging patients in quality improvement activities. They also point out the existence of a research gap that makes it difficult to quantify the effect of “culture change” in health care, and to attribute improvements specifically to patients’ involvement. They discuss the benefits of involving consumers in the design and improvement of products and services outside the health care industry, and present early lessons on engaging patients to improve ambulatory care in four communities—Humboldt County, Calif.; south central Pennsylvania; Maine; and Oregon—participating in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Aligning Forces for Quality initiative. These lessons, although early, illustrate that actively engaging patients in improving ambulatory care improves provider-patient communication; identifies and avoids potential challenges to new services; and improves provider and patient satisfaction.
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