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Tell Me a Story: How patient narrative can improve health care

Update from Care Opinion

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picture of James Munro

Back in September 2016 I was fortunate to be invited to join policy and academic discussions in Washington DC about the role of narrative patient feedback in the assessment of healthcare quality in the US. I had the opportunity to say a little bit about Care Opinion, and our citizen-centred approach to online feedback.

Our approach is rare in the US (as it is everywhere, I think), and so this sparked significant interest in Care Opinion, particularly from US academics and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), the largest philanthropic public health funder in the US. RWJF went on to support the publication of a policy briefing on Care Opinion, from a US perspective, authored by Katherine Browne and Dale Shaller.

RWJF briefing on Care Opinion

Download the RWJF briefing on Care Opinion

View the briefing page on the RWJF website

The RWJF briefing is a terrific, insightful overview of Care Opinion. It identifies six important ways that Care Opinion could “advance patient-centredness” in the US:

  1. Using two-way communication.
  2. Encouraging feedback from varied perspectives.
  3. Tagging stories so they can be accessed by themes.
  4. Offering graphical snapshots.
  5. Driving broad, system-level changes.
  6. Providing a robust complaint mechanism for patients seeking nonmonetary redress.

The briefing also provides a clear and concise summary of the power of Care Opinion’s open, two-way story-based approach for learning and service improvement.

Browne and Shaller conclude: “Learning from the experience and lessons derived from Care Opinion and pursuing these six game-changing ideas can help health care systems in the United States better leverage patient narrative to transform their organizational culture and operations so that patients are truly at the center of care.”

What Patients Say: Chicago, October 2018

Francis Fullam, assistant professor of health systems management at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, was also present at the 2016 Washington meeting. He was inspired by those  discussions to host a national conference on the significance of patient stories for quality and safety, held last month in Chicago.

I was honoured to be invited back to the US to share Care Opinion with conference delegates, as one of just two non-US speakers (along with Jocelyn Cornwell of Point of Care Foundation).

I’ll reflect on some of the themes of that conference in my next blog post.

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