|Health Factors:||Quality of Care|
|Decision Makers:||Healthcare Professionals & Advocates Public Health Professionals & Advocates|
|Population Reach:||50-99% of WI's population|
|Impact on Disparities:|
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Health care entities are often governed by boards that are charged with setting the organization’s strategic direction; board decisions help determine organizational policy, shape patient services, and ultimately, affect patient outcomes. Governing boards are generally comprised of a variety of stakeholders, and may include consumer representatives. Consumers may also be integrated into other governance activities, participate in organization-led projects to develop and disseminate consumer-friendly health and comparative quality information, or in health care system redesign efforts (Mende 2013). Consumer roles may be long-term commitments such as reviewing current services or potential change initiatives, or short-term engagements to provide feedback or preferences on discrete questions (Crawford 2003).
Involving consumers in health care governance is a suggested strategy to improve health care quality (Mende 2013), service effectiveness, and organizational accountability, as well as to empower disadvantaged consumers (Crawford 2003). Available evidence suggests that consumer engagement in priority setting may result in different decisions than those that would have been reached without it (Mitton 2009).
A large-scale US-based effort to involve consumers in health care governance indicates that identifying appropriate participants, defining consumer roles, and resistance from some stakeholders can be challenges to successfully engaging and integrating consumers. Requiring consumer involvement, however, appears to help ease barriers to including consumers in governance discussions (Mende 2013).
The experience of the UK’s National Health Service, which has long sought and included some element of consumer involvement, indicates that clearly articulating both what involvement means and what it is intended to achieve is needed in order for consumers to be substantively engaged in decision making (Hogg 2007).
Consumer involvement in health care governance is becoming more common among both public and private organizations. Health centers supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) are required to have consumers on their governing boards, as are accountable care organizations (ACOs). The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s (RWJF's) Aligning Forces for Quality (AF4Q) initiative, which ended April 2015, supported efforts to improve quality and value in 16 communities in 14 states, requires local consumer involvement in governance and decision making, program design and implementation, and information dissemination efforts (Mende 2013).
The Wisconsin Collaborative for Healthcare Quality (WCHQ) was the lead organization for Wisconsin’s AF4Q initiative. WCHQ focuses on public reporting and bringing meaning to performance data (AF4Q-Communities). As part of their AF4Q efforts, WCHQ partnered with Consumer Reports to provide a special regional insert with information on cancer screening tests, care for people age sixty or older, and the treatment of heart disease (Mende 2013).
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