Massachusetts Health Quality Partners (MHQP) is a state-based national leader in measuring and leading projects to improve patient engagement and experience. MHQP’s leadership in this area deserves recognition and support. MHQP exemplifies the tactics and strategies needed to improve patient experience and itself has a consumer council to give voice to the needs of patients, families and caregivers. It is a broad-based coalition of patients, physicians, hospitals, health plans, purchasers, academics, and government agencies, working together to promote improvement in the quality of health care services in MA with a focus on measuring and improving patients’ experience of care.
At the core of MHQP’s patient engagement is recognition of the centrality of patient experience in healthcare quality. MHQP has a long standing commitment to capturing and amplifying the voice of the patient by surveying patients about their experience with the health care system through patient experience surveys, making the results of these surveys widely available to providers to improve the care they give their patients, and communicating them with the public to better inform health care choices.
In the past several years, MHQP has moved to more directly engage patients. In 2011, MHQP’s Board adopted a consumer engagement strategy, recognizing the critical need to more effectively engage patients to achieve the improvement gains aspired to in Massachusetts. MHQP established a Consumer Health Council (CHC) committed to having a patient representative on every MHQP committee and at every level of MHQP’s governance. Subsequently the CHC has been involved, sharing the patient voice in all stages of MHQP decision making.
In 2012, MHQP partnered with Consumer Reports (CR) with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation 9RWJW) to publish the first-in- t-nation ratings of primary care practices using MHQP’s Statewide Patient Experience Survey results. By partnering with CR, MHQP was able to do a better job of sharing the results of the statewide patient experience survey in a way that was easy for the public to understand. Given the CR brand and large number of subscribers, more people became aware of MHQP’s survey results. Working with CR helped MHQP share important messages for patients, such as what to expect from their care (e.g. that their physician should explain things in a way they can understand and that they should be informed about how test results will be communicated), and what patients can do to get the most out of their care. The report stressed the importance of patients having a partnership with their physicians and being engaged with their care.
Representatives of MHQP’s Consumer Health Council (CHC) were vital members of the editorial group that reviewed the content of the report. They emphasized that patients can take charge of their own health, and they want providers as partners to help them do so. At the suggestion of the CHC, MHQP subsequently published “plain language” brochures for more diverse populations about how patients and (parents of patients) can communicate better with their providers and work with their providers to improve their health.
MHQP is leading a multi-stakeholder effort, including members of MHQP’s CHC, to advance the Choosing Wisely® campaign in the Commonwealth. The goal of Massachusetts Choosing Wisely campaign, supported by a grant from the ABIM Foundation and RWJF, is to encourage patients and physicians to talk together about the necessity of various tests, and procedures that may be unnecessary, and in some instances cause harm. Members of the CHC have provided feedback about the importance of having diverse populations represented in the videos and tools used to engage different audiences.
Finally, MHQP collaborated with two locally-based, nationally-recognized organizations to establish a Child Health Quality Coalition (CHQC) focused on the quality of pediatric care that has included families since the inception of the coalition. CHQC engaged one of CHQC’s advocacy groups to work with families on briefings and training and support to ensure that families could be active participants in all aspects of coalition work with providers and payers and government agencies. Families have been involved in policy discussions, developments and editing of a communication guide for providers, community groups and families, the development of a care coordination framework and integration of behavioral health in primary care for children with special health care needs.
MHQP has had many successes in its 19-yearhistory, which can be measured both by the strength of its unique collaboration of patients, providers and insurers, and its many successful projects and innovations. Between 2012 and 2014, MHQP achieved the following in patient engagement:
- MHQP’s CHC institutionalized the patient voice internally within MHQP.
- MHQP’s partnership with CR helped engage patients in their care. Based on a survey of CR readers, 39% of those who read the recommendations on how to interact with their doctor plan to change what they do or say during future visits. This partnership also demonstrated that the public wants reliable, valid information to help them make decisions about their doctors – CR newsstands sales increase 110% the month this issue was released. When the report came out coverage of the report generated 4.5 million web hits; MHQP’s Facebook traffic went up 700% and Twitter activity increase by 200%. This has led to an increase in MHQP’s public engagement through social media.
- Data-driven quality improvement has the greatest likelihood of success, and MHQP has generated objective patient experience data that is the gold standard for measuring and improving patient experience in MA. Statewide, Massachusetts physicians have improved their patient experience data across nearly every dimension, partly due to the availability of MHQP’s reliable, valid data to drive quality improvements.
- MHQP’s leadership role in developing methodology for measuring patient experience surveys, including the field testing of the NCQA Patient Centered Medical Home survey, has resulted in a nationwide impact on improving patient experience and patient engagement.
- The Child Health Quality Coalition has developed a framework in partnership with families about essential components of high performing, pediatric care coordination.