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Meaningful patient and public engagement doesn’t happen by accident – it takes deliberate effort and a commitment to remain open and collaborative throughout the process.
To help guide you in these efforts, please consider the following Principles of Authentic Engagement and ask yourself whether you are including patients in a way that is of value to you, to them, and to our health care system:
1. People affected by a decision are involved in the process
As leaders and decision-makers, we acknowledge that it is important for patients and other stakeholders to have their voices and opinions heard when there is a decision that will impact them in some way.
2. The engagement organizer promises that the patients’ input will contribute to the final outcome
We engage patients at a point where their input can make a difference, and the expectations around how this input will be used will be communicated early on in the process.
3. Long-lasting and sustainable decisions recognize the needs and interests of all parties
Our goal should be to find solutions and improvements that will be supported both now and in the future. By engaging patients in our work from the earliest stages of improvement, we can see where we need to go to achieve a mutually-agreeable solution that will best serve everyone’s needs.
4. Every effort will be made to ensure that all perspectives are sought out and invited to participate
We are comfortable hearing from a diverse range of opinions – even if they are not in agreement with what we want to see. This helps establish a mutually-agreeable and widely supported decision.
5. Patient partners’ inputs are sought out in designing their participation in the initiative
Once a health care partner is clear on the engagement objective, and decision points in the initiative where influence from patient partners is possible, it is good practice to create and/or review the proposed engagement activities with patient partners and modify the approach based on their suggestions where feasible.
6. All participants are supported and provided with the necessary information to ensure that they can participate fully right away
Do not assume that patients are already well-versed in the technical aspects of health care. While they bring unique perspectives to the work, care should be taken to ensure that they are given enough support and information so that they can participate in a meaningful way.
7. Patients and other participants are kept updated throughout the process about how their input is/has shaped the final decision
Ensure that patients who are invited into your work receive regular updates on how the decision is progressing and how their input and expertise is used. Closing the loop in a timely manner helps demonstrate the value of their contributions and the likelihood of patients giving their time in the future.
Source: Adapted from The International Association of Public Participation (www.iap2.org) and National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation’s “Core Principles for public engagement”