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Assessing patient and public involvement in healthcare engagement

Patient and public engagement is occurring in many areas across the healthcare system. Today's citizens are engaged in the management of their own healthcare in a number of ways. As patients and members of the public, they consult and advise on ways to improve and manage overall healthcare outcomes. This may include providing feedback through traditional methods of research such as surveys and focus groups, or by participating in advisory councils on all aspects of healthcare. Involving citizens in healthcare decision-making is rooted in democratic principles and can lead to increased legitimacy and fairness, improved public trust and confidence in the system, and the inclusion of the values and priorities of citizens.

Zahava Rosenberg-Yunger, adjunct professor of Health Services Management at the Ted Rogers School of Management, studies patient and public engagement and the extent to which these methods of consultations are affecting overall healthcare decision-making. She recently embarked on a study with Ryerson University to evaluate patient and public involvement in drug reimbursement recommendations and whether drug recommendation committees are achieving their goals of incorporating patient and public feedback.

Using funding from the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR), professor Rosenberg-Yunger is refining and testing a survey to evaluate current levels of patient and public involvement, which will indicate areas where involvement can be strengthened and help decision makers address concerns about equity, ethics and justice. The survey, to be published in the summer of 2019, will be tested with international drug recommendation committees across Canada to assess the process of public and patient involvement in drug resource allocation recommendations, and it will also have applicability to other health technology assessment committees.

Professor Rosenberg-Yunger is the director of health policy and research at the Ontario Pharmacists Association (OPA), and her scope in the area of patient and public engagement is extensive. In addition to her work at Ryerson, professor Rosenberg-Yunger and OPA were recently invited to develop a citizen engagement strategy at the program and project levels for the Ontario Pharmacy and Evidence Network. The strategy will include establishing a citizen panel of 12 citizens (patients and members of the public) for four panel discussions over a two-year period, at which point the findings of the evaluation will be published.

"It is important to understand whether organizations are meeting their objectives of involving patients and/or the public in order to identify areas of improvement. Patients know themselves best. It's important to me to address the gap that exists in patients contributing positively to their own health outcomes," said professor Rosenberg-Yunger.