Essential Element 6: Get Feedback and Iterate
A critical part of engaging members of the public in your panel or project is informing the entire organization and the community it serves about the work and accomplishments of community advisers. To do this well, you will need to document this involvement and collect illustrative examples to share. Decide what you are going to track or measure and be diligent about following your plan.
Why do this?
- Fundamentally, your organization exists to meet the needs of your clients, patients or the general public. None of these needs can be met without fully partnering with them to redesign improve and evaluate the services you provide.
- By monitoring/reviewing progress you can see when progress is being made so you can celebrate your successes. You will also be able to see if efforts to include the public in your work is faltering and needs more attention. Investing leadership time in reviewing your selected measures shows staff that strengthening patient or community engagement is an organizational priority.
- You can only make a strong case for the continued need for engagement from members of the public in your organization’s improvement efforts if you track and monitor that work. Data from hospital efforts, for example, shows that patient and family advisers contribute significantly to the efficacy of improvement initiatives at almost all levels.
How to do this
The staff liaison, perhaps with the help of any data development expertise in your organization, can devise a system for measuring and tracking:
- adviser activities on the project/panel,
- the outcome(s) of project in which advisers are involved, and if appropriate,
- the growth of adviser engagement over the course of the project,
Information to consider collecting and reporting, particularly when you’ve had more than one opportunity to engage advisers, includes:
- The number of advisers recruited or total number of advisers on a project/panel
- The description of each of the distinct efforts in which advisers participate (e.g., councils, committees, training and orientation events, facility design planning, feedback sessions, and workgroups)
- Total hours volunteered by advisers per project
- Examples of work completed (e.g., minutes from meetings; print, web, or video resources; or revisions to policies or procedures)
Measure the benefit to advisers as members of a committee or work group.
- What are the things you want to measure about how advisers viewed their experience? Some examples:
- Was the role satisfying?
- Did they feel like contributors?
- Were their expectations met or exceeded?
- Did they feel heard/respected?
- Did they feel like an integral part of panel?
Measure the benefit to the organization of participation from members of the public.
- What are the organizational benefits you want to measure? Some examples:
- Better patient experience of your services
- Broadening your reach
- Gaining additional buy-in for new ideas/policies
Invest leadership time in reviewing your selected measures to demonstrate that strengthening patient or community engagement is an organizational priority.
Evaluating the meeting
Quick written or verbal debriefs at the end of project meetings can help in making adjustments to panel operations and functions. Spend a few minutes asking questions such as “What went well during this meeting?” and “How can we improve future meetings?”
Keep people focused on the process and not individual behaviors. For example, “I noticed the discussion around ’X’ got a little off topic” and not “’Someone’ spent too much time talking about an unrelated issue.”
Be sure to take time at each meeting and at the end of the project to celebrate accomplishments, both big and small.
"The 'n’s' are too small for measurement to have any meaning."
Even if imprecise or incomplete, most data are accurate enough to give you a general sense of whether or not you’ve made progress. Think of any qualitative data you collect in the same way you might think about information gleaned from an employee on an exit interview. While it may not tell you everything you need to know, you will learn something. See "Sources and Resources" in the sidebar for some process and outcome measures to consider.
"Besides measurement, what else can we do to sustain efforts to include community members in our work?"
There are other ways to build on your successes. Actively communicate adviser accomplishments. Here are some tips:
- Publicize information about activities that involved patient and family advisers in a variety of venues – annual report, employee newsletters, community newsletters, your website, hospital staff meetings, and display boards. Make sure the information you provide includes examples of ways that advisers had an impact.
- Share accomplishments with leadership. Develop a brief presentation for the leadership team or governing board and invite a community adviser to co-present.
- Share improvements and lessons learned with others at local, regional, and national meetings. Look for opportunities to present at conferences or to share your experiences with other workgroups in your organization or networks.
- Make sure to communicate with advisers about the status of the project and let them know how their input made a difference.