Consumer Consultants call the shots at Healthscope

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The group employs focus groups to engage patients in shaping business and care provision at hospitals

With the ever-increasing focus on consumer and carer participation and collaboration in the planning, design, delivery and evaluation of healthcare, Healthscope is employing focus groups to engage patients in the process of healthcare provision.

Healthscope has increasingly sought participation of consumers and patients in decision making and this has been formalised with the appointment of one or more Consumer Consultants at each the group’s hospitals as well as its head office. The Consumer Consultants play an active role in providing valuable feedback that helps shape the business and care provision at the hospitals.

In December 2014, at a focus group meet held at the Healthscope head office, Consumer Consultants along with past and present patients were invited for morning tea. They spoke with Managing Director Robert Cooke about the strategic planning for Healthscope on a national level and gave their inputs and feedback at the meet.

The focus group discussed the following areas in the December meeting:

  • Patient Centred Care: The mandatory education program that Healthscope provides for all staff to improve their focus on excellence in customer service.
  • Consumer Consultant role: Discussion on how they engage with staff and patients at their individual hospital, activities conducted projects, strategies used and support received.
  • MyHealthscope: A demonstration of this ground-breaking website showing quality indicator data for each Healthscope hospital compared with national benchmarks and patient education information.
  • Strategic planning: MD Robert Cooke presented an overview of Healthscope. This included the impact of the stock exchange listing, new building works procurement program and benefits.

Throughout the discussion, the Consumer Consultants provided thoughts and suggestions which were well received by the executive team. An action plan was developed with a plan to host three more consumer forums in 2015.

There has been a slow but steady shift towards the recognition that healthcare organisations, consumers and carers are all partners in the healthcare system, especially with the emergence of policies promoting the rights and responsibilities of consumers and carers within the healthcare system.

The Australian Government has increased the focus on consumer involvement in health by including a standard on Consumer Participation as one of the 10 National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards.

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