Patients as Partners: Health Systems Learning Collaborative
Empowering Health Care Consumers
March 16, 2021
Outside New York State
The health, social, and economic ramifications of COVID-19 for communities of color, coupled with the 2020 racial justice demonstrations, have renewed the health care system’s focus on the critical role it plays in promoting health and racial equity more broadly.
Elevating the voices of patients of color will help guide efforts to create a more equitable health care system, and ultimately to reduce and eliminate racial health disparities. Although health care system leaders recognize the value of patient partnerships, guidance for addressing these practices is often lacking, and few know how to pursue them or where to begin. As a result, health care organizations are achieving varying levels of success. They may lack the expertise, skills, and tools to design and implement system improvements and specific strategies that give people of color a meaningful role in their health care. In 2021, NYHealth awarded the Center for Health Care Strategies (CHCS) a grant to support New York State health care systems in developing strategies to better partner and engage with patients of color.
Under this grant, CHCS launched and facilitated a 12-month learning collaborative with health care systems seeking to address health disparities and advance their health equity agendas. It created teams of staff members and patients to participate in shared learning and problem-solving to: (1) more intentionally engage and partner with patients of color; and (2) leverage these partnerships to implement new or improved patient engagement strategies. CHCS recruited New York State-based health care systems to participate, based on Medicaid-eligible populations served, geographical diversity, established community partnerships, and established internal equity efforts. Through peer-to-peer exchange, shared tools and best practices, and coaching, participants built their capacity to apply a racial equity lens to their patient engagement strategies and better integrate these strategies into broader health equity agendas. Each site completed a baseline assessment at the beginning of the learning collaborative, which was used to assess progress. CHCS and an equity consultant partnered with the participants to benchmark their work and help them identify ways to integrate and scale improved patient engagement strategies into their existing structures. Based on results from the learning collaborative, CHCS developed and shared materials that highlight innovative strategies and best practices for partnering more intentionally with patients of color. These include: