Health Care Partner Perspective: Bringing Patient Voices into Health Technology

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Health technology is a hot topic, particularly when it comes to patient engagement!

We recently had the opportunity to connect with Selva Bayat from the Health Technology Assessment team to discuss how new incoming technologies are adopted within BC and what part patient engagement plays in their provincial expansion. The team has just released an engagement opportunity with PVN and is looking for your help!

Selva works with the Health Technology Assessment (HTA) team, an independent academic centre contracted by the BC Ministry of Health to produce Health Technology Assessments. The team will carefully look at the strengths and weaknesses of health care technologies and processes, old or new, and recommend whether they should be used across the province. Health technologies in the context of the work done by the HTA team can include: “diagnostic tests and surgical, medical, or dental devices and procedures — but not broad health system issues, such as information technology, program delivery, staffing, and finance” (CADTH, 2018).

How HTA engages patients

These assessments require the help of patient partners, who can share their experiences and weigh in on whether they have found these technologies to be effective and useful. The HTA team works with PVN (as well as one of our health care partners, the BC SUPPORT Unit) to ensure they’re including a wide variety of voices in their projects. Patient partners are involved in the work of the Health Technology Assessment team in two important ways: using their specific experiences as patients, and as individuals.

Because the health technology in question is often specialized to certain diagnoses, patient partners with experience in that particular area of health care are invited to focus groups or interviews to provide insights that only patients, families and caregivers can bring.

Patient partners are also involved on the individual level. This involves discussing the project’s goals and preparing the interview/focus group guides and questions. Additionally, once data has been collected and anonymized,  patient partners are recruited to look over the findings and help ensure the information can be generalized for everyone who would be affected. Patients help validate the report and remove jargon to make sure it is easily readable and centred on the patient experience. As well, patient partners can identify important factors from patient experiences for consideration in the economic model and analysis.

Why it’s important to involve patients as decision makers

Selva says patient partner knowledge is a valuable resource for health care partners: “Having a patient who has gone through similar experiences with the health care system, they can find areas of importance that I may not be able to see as well”. She adds that, “because of our patient partners, we consider all aspects of the technology. Not just cost effectiveness, but quality of life, length of hospital-stay, risk of relapse, mental health status, costs for the patient and how technology can help patients deal with their condition.” Working with patients directly gives the HTA team a more well-rounded idea of how the public will interact with a technology.

Selva is thrilled to be working with PVN on another engagement opportunity: “I love our work. It is so rewarding to look at some of the changes that have been implemented due to patient partner feedback and the work of the team. Ethical patient engagement means these partnerships should benefit the health care partners as well as the patients.”

Getting involved with HTA

Interested in participating in the health technology review process? Projects include a wide range of topics, with everything from electronic monitoring of hand washing to technology that helps manage genetic conditions. While the specific eligibility for projects may vary, the team generally looks for patients who are interested in system transformation and policy changes on the provincial level, or patients who are keen to learn the specifics of different health technologies. This way, the patient partners are able to use their voices to inspire positive changes in the health care system, while also learning about how these changes occur and how the health care system operates.

Check out the current engagement opportunity with the Health Technology Assessment team!

 

Written by Lauren McGuire-Wood

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