Associate Professor Michael Greco, has given us his insights into consumer partnerships.
“The evidence for partnering with consumers is now beyond dispute. We know that when organisations do this well then the result is better health outcomes, better service utilisation, less hospitalisation, and less complaints.
The challenge is, how best can we partner with consumers? Health organisations do this in a number of ways; strategies include involving consumers in the planning, implementation and evaluation of services through to including consumers in the governance of the organisation.
Of recent interest has been the way that consumers are using the social media to voice their approval or concerns, not so much with the ‘what’ of care, but more with the ‘how’ of care.
The tried and tested ways of gathering consumer views (such as focus groups, discovery interviews, patient diaries, surveys), whilst they have value, seem to fall short in terms of their transparency and ability to help staff ‘see through their eyes’.
What social media can do is connect better the world of the health professional and the patient. What is needed is a way of making this world of social media more accessible to busy staff so that they can easily access patient stories, learn from them, and act in a way that reassures the patient that they have ‘their best interests at heart’.
The challenge to health organisations is how social media, such as Patient Opinion, fits in with their current strategies. Do you want to try and control the way that consumers provide feedback, or are you prepared to meet consumers on their terms? We have entered a new era which will require courageous leadership from those who make the decisions, but there are new benefits for this type of action, not least of which is building greater public trust and confidence about their health providers.”
Patient Opinion Australia
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