Frequently Asked Questions – Engaging Patient Partners

When you first begin engaging patient partners, it’s understandable if you are nervous. We’ve compiled some frequently asked questions that may help you in your team discussions:

What if the patient’s suggestions are complicated, or if they’d need too much time and money?

Patient partners are, for the most part, aware of the challenges faced by health care leaders and decision makers, and they realize that they must balance safe and quality care, system strains and increased costs. To ensure a good understanding of those limitations, setting out clear parameters and a clear overview of the current state will assist you in making the engagement meaningful.

We’re so busy. What if people on my team don’t see the value?

It’s important to recognize that health care partners set the agenda, expectations and key questions to ask the patient partners. The more time you put into preparation, the better chance of a beneficial experience for both your team and the patient partner. We find that getting patient partners involved in co-creating your activity creates better understanding and shared leadership for your engagement.

What if the patients’ health care experiences were negative and they are struggling to move forward?

Most patients want to ensure that their experiences are not duplicated, and they are thrilled to have an opportunity to share how they were impacted, in a teachable moment. It’s an opportunity to share lived experiences and perspectives in order to contribute to broader and bigger picture conversations and efforts to improve patient safety, quality care and the patient experience.

We discuss confidential information. How do we know that this will be kept “in house?”

All health care partners are encouraged to have discussions at the start of an engagement opportunity to ensure the importance of respecting the sensitive nature of the conversations that take place as part of their involvement. In most cases, it is encouraged to have an agreement signed by all patient partners to ensure that the information is kept confidential. An example of this is our Volunteer Agreement.


If you would like detailed information on how to address any hesitations you may have, take a look at the briefs created by the Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement that provides some plain language tips and tools. There are six in the series.

Resource Category

Health Care Partner

Resource Type

Tips & Checklists

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