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Pilot for new consumer engagement quality and safety marker begins

Partners in Care
13 December 2019

The Health Quality & Safety Commission (the Commission) is piloting a new consumer engagement quality and safety marker (QSM) in four district health boards (DHBs) from December 2019.

The QSM will measure how DHBs are listening, responding to and partnering with consumers, and how they honour Te Tiriti o Waitangi in their consumer engagement planning and activities.

The initial testing by Canterbury, Waikato, Counties Manukau and Waitematā DHBs will be followed by a national roll-out of the QSM in mid-2020. Six-monthly reporting will start by the end of 2020.

Dr Chris Walsh, director of the Commission’s Partners in Care programme, says the new QSM will give a better understanding about the different ways DHBs are listening and responding to consumer input and involving them at every level.

‘Patient experience, clinical effectiveness and patient safety are all linked,’ says Dr Walsh.

‘If we don’t have consumer involvement and co-design of services, then all of these areas are affected.

‘We need to make sure there are opportunities for shared leadership and ownership of health services, that DHBs are responding to consumer input and that consumers are being listened to.’

David Price, director of patient experience at Waitematā DHB says, ‘The development of the consumer engagement QSM is a positive step forward to ensure DHBs are engaging with their communities in a meaningful and effective way. This will hopefully enable DHBs to move from a tokenistic approach to consumer engagement to a fully integrated partnership, designing health services of the future that meet the needs of the communities they serve and improve patient experiences and outcomes.’

Development of the QSM has included a number of co-design workshops and meetings with consumers and health care professionals. One of these held at Canterbury DHB was attended by the Commission.

‘The Canterbury workshop helped us define what successful consumer engagement looks like and make sure we’re designing measures that will give valuable information to the Commission and the sector,’ says Dr Walsh.

The four pilot sites have been consulting with communities, consumers, providers and others for the past 18 months and a reference group is in place to support the development of the QSM.

One of the consumer advisors on the reference group, Ezekiel Robson, stresses the importance of this partnership: ‘Consumers are helping to design what gets measured so patient input is truly at the centre of all improvements in health care planning and delivery.’

Richard Hamblin, director health quality intelligence at the Commission, says, ‘The new QSM will differ from the other QSMs currently in use for measuring falls, healthcare associated infections, safe surgery, medication safety and patient deterioration.’

Rather than using the usual process and outcome measures, the consumer engagement QSM will use the ‘Are you SURE?’ framework:

  • Supporting – what is in place to support consumer engagement?
  • Understanding – how able are organisations to understand what consumers are telling them?
  • Responding – what has been done to respond to what consumers have said?
  • Evaluating – what has been the effect of these interventions?

‘The “Are you SURE?” framework will help us understand what supports are in place, whether DHBs are understanding and responding to consumer feedback and what has been done to implement and evaluate it,’ says Dr Walsh.

‘Engaging with consumers, families and whānau must remain a priority.’