Epworth HealthCare has taken out the 2023 APHA Award for Excellence for Consumer Partnership.
Epworth’s Clinical Service Improvement Team was handed the award at the Australian Private Hospitals Association's 40th National Congress.
The team’s strategy aims to ensure consumers have a voice in shaping and influencing Epworth HealthCare’s services, not only at point of care but also in planning, design, delivery and evaluation.
Prior to 2021, consumer partnerships at the Victorian private hospitals group mainly involved informing or consulting with consumers, but it now has Consumer Advisors collaborating across all levels of the organisation, and within various sites and services.
Sheila Daly, Epworth's Director of Patient Experience, Clinical Service Improvement and Infection Prevention and Control, said she was proud of the team's award-winning achievements.
“Consumer Advisors play a significant role in ensuring the patient voice is included at all levels of our organisation,” she said.
“Consumer Advisors are patients, family members and/or members of the community that volunteer and partner with us.
“Their unique experiences, knowledge and ideas help us to improve the delivery of care and our services at Epworth HealthCare.”
Key changes included a patient experience survey working group to ensure the survey was more user friendly; feedback on digital technologies; and increased consumer involvement in patient materials, ensuring they were easier to understand.
Epworth was selected for the award ahead of fellow finalists Wollongong Private Hospital (‘Consumer Representative Committee Initiative’) and Hurstville Private Hospital (‘Self Pay Surgery’).
Its submission was praised by the judging panel as “an excellent model which could and should be replicated across all hospitals”.
Helen, a Consumer Advisor and member of the Epworth Consumer Advisory Committee, said meaningful engagement was “more than just having a seat at the table”.
“It means being encouraged to speak up and asked directly for a point of view,” she said.
“And feeling comfortable that I’m able to give that point of view in a safe and considered manner.”
Epworth HealthCare said there had been an “organisational shift” in the attitudes and approaches to consumer partnerships, with staff and doctors embracing the consumer voice.
Read more: Award affirms ‘patient happiness’ link