Training patients to be effective participants in their healthcare

The Challenge: Building patient knowledge and skills

Patients as partners are both a policy and a philosophy at the British Columbia Ministry of Health. The Patient Engagement Projects (PEP) initiative, led by Kelly McQuillen, Executive Director, Primary Health Care and Specialist Services, included mostly immigrants and seniors and was designed to build patients knowledge and skills to become confident and informed about their health. Through their work, the team developed a successful model for engagement which could be applied to other settings. Their project, “Patients as Partners - Patient Voices Network,” now has approximately 1,500 members and this number continues to increase.

The Improvement Project: Patients as partners

This initiative included workshops and webinars that brought together patients, health professionals and health administrators. It was built on the principle of mutual learning. In both the face-to-face workshop forums and online webinars, patients were provided with an overview of the Canadian healthcare system, the local healthcare structure, an introduction to patient and public engagement, and they were given practical communication tools to get involved.

The Result: Patients find their voice

Survey results show that every patient ‘agreed’ or ‘strongly agreed’ they would use the information to improve their patient voice and every patient was ‘somewhat confident’ or ‘very confident’ they could use the skills they learned. These results demonstrate that the materials and methods used in this project were effective at building patients knowledge and skills. Additionally, it gave providers the knowledge and skills so they can engage in further patient engagement work within their organisation and spread best practices.

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The feedback from those who attended our workshop survey was gratifying. In particular, participants felt the workshops were a great way to gain information and share thoughts and provided an “opportunity to take care of their own health.”

– Kelly McQuillen, Executive Director Primary Health Care and Specialist


To learn more about CFHI's patient and family engagement initiatives, please visit or email us at