Designing health services with consumers: The way forward

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Health care needs to ensure more consumer involvement in the design of services if it is to meet patient-centred standards expected of today’s health services.

A new Evidence Brief from the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association’s (AHHA) Deeble Institute for Health Policy Research and Consumers Health Forum of Australia (CHF) provides recommendations for health service providers including hospitals and Primary Health Networks (PHNs) to increase the role of consumers in designing healthcare services.

The brief, Consumer Co-Creation in Health Innovating in Primary Health Networks, was authored by Rebecca Randall (CHF), with contributions from AHHA and participants in a recent workshop jointly presented by AHHA and CHF, Consumer Engagement: How can PHNs & LHNs involve consumers in co-creation to improve healthcare?

“It is becoming more widely recognised across the health sector that consumer engagement and patient-centred care are central concepts of an optimal health system,” CHF CEO Leanne Wells said.

Deeble Institute Director Susan Killion noted that moving toward a consumer-centred health system is not a simple task, and doing so effectively will require more attention being paid to change management than is currently the case.

“There is a need to move away from deciding, announcing and defending our practices and toward effectively managing this change by focusing efforts on workforce training, and engaging consumers with professional colleges, regional bodies charged with commissioning services (PHNs) and hospitals in the design and delivery of services. Exemplars were drawn from emerging models of community engagement in PHNs such as WentWest, the Western Australia Primary Health Alliance, Capital Health Network in the ACT and North Brisbane PHN,” Ms Killion said.

A common thread across the case studies presented in the brief was a high level of engagement and leadership from the executive level of organisations. Boards and the executive leadership of health services need to be prepared to champion consumer-centred care and provide adequate support, space and time for their organisations to genuinely engage consumers.

“We commend this Evidence Brief to health leaders and policy makers as a contribution to the ongoing discussion about the consumer role in healthcare and health service design.”

Media enquiries:
Alison Verhoeven
Chief Executive, Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association
0403 282 501

Mark Metherell
Consumers Health Forum of Australia
0429 111 986