Gerry Campbell reflects on our latest Hot Talk on Health – What can Ontario learn from BC’s Patients as Partners?
Q1: What are your overall impressions of BC’s trailblazing Patients as Partners and Patient Voices network?
The four-year BC journey of Patients as Partners shows clearly that the healthcare iceberg can be slowly chipped at to rearrange the shape of the pyramid from a triangular to a diamond. I was especially interested to learn how the Patients as Partners committees were responsive to patient input. So change infused with the patient voice is possible at a system level.
And BC recognizes that patients and their families, friends and caregivers have a unique perspective on the healthcare system that is different from the perspective of the provider, healthcare worker or administrator. The patient voice adds value in understanding challenges and creating solutions.
Q2: How might this model of wide patient/provider/government partnership play out in Ontario? What would be needed to make it work?
I think the model might work in Ontario with some changes to adapt to our context. For example, we need to be inclusive of different ethnic and First Nations groups. How do we get them involved and help them feel empowered to participate in healthcare change? I’d like to see this issue addressed.
Q3: Given your experience on the Foundation’s standing engagement panel, PANORAMA, how can patients and caregivers help improve our system? What missing voice do they add?
As a PANORAMA member with patient, caregiver and long-term care leadership experience, I would say our panel helps to complete the circle of conversation to ensure the system has a true feedback loop. Without engaging with patients, it is hard for our system’s leaders to understand what’s missing or what isn’t working. Patients and caregivers need to find their way through many people and places, and through various hospital and healthcare settings. Many of the problems stem from leaders not hearing honest dialogue about people’s experiences navigating the system.
Q4: What kinds of shifts do you think are needed to embrace patients as equal partners in healthcare improvement?
We need to look at shifting some fundamentals. We could start by reworking how we fund services to motivate more collaboration between providers and places. And we need to work at erasing our government/ministry silos to break down barriers to service. Of course, unions and associations need to find new ways of working together to improve care. On the whole, we need to unify and streamline our collective efforts with the goal of improving care for the system’s users – patients and caregivers.
Q5: What has been your experience of the PANORAMA panel to date? How has it changed your perspective on our system and your role within it?
It’s been a positive and empowering experience. In my opinion, PANORAMA is an important patient forum to affect change in Ontario. The 31 committed volunteers who serve on the panel are motivated by their own healthcare experiences to make our system better. Together, they provide a great overview on what’s happening in healthcare across the province.
For example, we weighed in on the Foundation’s Health System Navigators: Band-Aid or Cure? report (spring 2014). This paper suggests a role for “system navigators” to help coordinate care for those living with chronic illness.
I am hopeful, as are many of my panel colleagues, that through The Change Foundation’s ongoing recommendations to Ontario’s decision-makers, our input will have meaningful impact.