Start by articulating to leadership and staff how and why the voices of those who use the health care system will be included in your organization’s project. Be clear about the work that needs to be accomplished, conceptualize the roles of these members of the team, and be prepared to discuss how this engagement aligns with your organization’s mission and the objectives of the task at hand.
Four key reasons:
A few pointers:
You might meet with some resistance to this work in your organization. Here are some common barriers and suggestions for overcoming them.
Anticipate the potential for ‘wasted’ time if members of the community are not included. For example, a task force on improving a pharmacy’s ability to communicate with non-English speakers might decide to develop a list of staff members who speak other languages to act as translators. But if patients aren’t comfortable with that approach, the task force will need to do its work over again.
Other organizations have addressed this problem by asking all members of a work group to sign confidentiality agreements (see sample)
Institutional memory can be difficult to overcome. Goal-setting is a very good strategy for combatting this type of resistance. Keep the emphasis on the current project, what needs to be done and how it can’t be done well without the involvement of those who use the health care system.
Remind your team that people from other disciplines can provide a wealth of learning for all involved. More and more organizations are reaching across industries to see how they can tackle persistent issues. Teachers, engineers, bankers, artists, lawyers, community organizers, all bring the perspective of their professional paradigm. The rules, regulations, cultures they have experienced will offer a fresh perspective and creative approaches to the problem(s) your committee or task force is trying to address.