News at Medicine - February 2012 - Put patients first, says Health Council

Put patients first, says Health Council
February 23, 2012
The Health Council of Canada had released the report  “Turning what we know into action: A commentary on the National Symposium on Patient Engagement.” The report calls for the inclusion of the patient voice when designing, planning and delivering health care services in Canada.The report can been viewed at

“Patients with informed voices have a role to play in health system planning and ultimately on health care delivery,” said John G. Abbott, CEO of the Health Council of Canada. “However, patients must feel empowered and must be properly oriented to effectively assume that role.”

In October 2011, the Health Council of Canada held a national symposium on patient engagement. Patients, representatives from patient organizations, provincial and federal government representatives, researchers, health system administrators and health care providers shared their perspectives on patient-centred care.

A strong message from participants coming out of the symposium is the need to have patient engagement as a performance goal.

“We know governments make the most progress on their goals when specific objectives and concrete targets are set up front,” said Mr. Abbott.

The report says the patient experience should be measured at all levels of the health care system and the measurements should be used to set targets for higher quality care that is in keeping with patient experiences and expectations.

An equally strong message echoed by participants is the need to shift from a provider-focused to patient-centred care. To allow patients to take a more active role in their health care, governments and health care providers must shift the way health care is delivered to focus on patient-centred care. Patient-centred care concentrates on relationships that are a two-way exchange of information: patients are empowered, providers are willing to listen to them, and decisions are made as a team.

“Businesses listen to their customers, in the business of health care, the customers are the patients, and must be heard,” said Mr. Abbott.