Innovative patient resource kit eases the process of engaging patients

Related documents (shared with the permission of Alberta Health Services):

The Challenge: Determine a process for engaging patients effectively

Patient engagement is a process that Alberta Health Services (AHS) takes seriously. The organization understands the benefits of bringing patients to the discussion table to improve the way care is managed across a range of services. Jennifer Rees, AHS’s Executive Director of Patient Experience was receiving 10 to 20 calls every week from various groups within AHS, all of whom wanted referrals to patients willing to participate in engagement exercises. “They knew they needed that voice at the table,” says Rees. “But they didn’t know what to do.” Rees says they wanted to engage more with patients, but that AHS didn’t have the tools and resources at hand to make it happen.

The Improvement Project: Facilitating meaningful engagement

AHS wanted to do more than pay lip service to patient engagement. It wanted to ensure that any patient engagement initiatives it undertook would bring about meaningful healthcare improvements. Key to the solution was to provide the tools, preparation and infrastructure that participants would need to succeed. AHS, with support from the Patient Engagement Projects (PEP) initiative of the Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement asked patients, family members, providers and leaders to determine the best way forward.

The Result: A resource kit that supports meaningful patient engagement

Input from patients, family members, providers and leaders from four AHS strategic initiatives informed the development of a resource kit that provides participants with tools and tactics to participate effectively in patient engagement initiatives. A literature review of the best available evidence on the topic also guided the development of the resource kit. The kit was piloted within two AHS strategic initiatives to assess the impact of the resources and tools. Participants interviewed shared that they felt the resource kit was helpful in clarifying roles and that it would be beneficial to combine the kit’s tools and resources with the services of a patient engagement consultant to help find the best approach for supporting meaningful engagement.

“One of the biggest things that we’ve learned is that you have to have support for patient advisors. You assign a person to mentor that patient advisor…make sure that they have a person that they have as a ‘go-to’ person,” says Rees. “You don’t just bring a patient in to just rubberstamp something. They’re actually very offended by that.”

The Impact: Putting the resource kits to the test

While the resource kit was formally piloted through a variety of initiatives, it is now becoming widely used throughout AHS. “What’s really exciting is that our consultants are taking pieces of that resource kit and using it now, and then they’re adding other pieces as they do other work across the organization,” says Rees. Since its implementation, the AHS Patient Engagement (PE) department has seen an increase in requests for the involvement of patients and families in the planning, delivery and evaluation of health services. Between January and June 2012, 11 Patient Engagement consultants and PE education consultants have supported approximately 198 separate requests to the PE department. The accreditation surveyors commended the partnerships with physicians, staff, volunteers and community organizations in their October 2012 report.

Jennifer Rees image Jennifer Rees
Executive Director of Patient Experience
Alberta Health Services
Edmonton, Alberta


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