Safety and Quality > Our Work > Patient and Consumer Centred Care

Partnering with consumers is about healthcare organisations, healthcare providers and policy-makers actively working with consumers to ensure that health information, systems and services meet their needs.

There are lots of terms used to describe the concepts that underpin partnerships with consumers, such as patient-centred care, consumer engagement, patient participation and citizen engagement.

Essentially, partnerships with consumers exist when:

  • consumers are treated with dignity and respect
  • information is shared with consumers
  • participation and collaboration in healthcare processes are encouraged and supported to the extent that consumers choose.

Why partner with consumers?

There is good evidence that patient-centred approaches to care can lead to improvements in safety, quality and cost effectiveness, as well as improvements in patient and staff satisfaction.

The way to ensure that care is patient-centred is to work in partnership with consumers.

Some examples of how a healthcare organisation can partner with consumers include:

  • working with consumers to check that the information they produce is easy to understand
  • including consumers in their governance structure to ensure organisational policies and processes meet the needs of consumers
  • involving consumers in critical friends groups to provide advice on safety and quality projects
  • establishing consumer advisory groups to inform design or redesign projects.

Some examples of how healthcare providers can partner with consumers include:

  • asking consumers about their needs and preferences and working to meet them
  • using shared decision-making tools to help consumers make decisions about their health and care
  • ensuring that consumers have the option of support people or translators during consultations if they need them
  • using communication strategies that are tailored to the needs and preferences of the consumer.

More information about the evidence for patient-centred approaches to care can be found in the Commission’s discussion paper: Patient-centred care: Improving quality and safety through partnerships with patients and consumers

National Safety and Quality Health Service Standard 2: Partnering with Consumers

Standard 2 of the National Safety and Quality Health Service (NSQHS) Standards is focused on ensuring that healthcare organisations put systems and processes in place to engage with consumers in partnerships in the governance of the organisation. It is about making sure that healthcare organisations use consumers’ experiences and expertise to ensure the health care they deliver safe and high-quality.

Health Literacy

Health literacy plays an important role in enabling effective partnerships with consumers. In order for partnerships to work everyone needs to be able to give and receive, interpret and act on information about health and health care.

Seminars for partnerships with consumers

The Commission has co-sponsored two seminars focused on partnerships with consumers; the Building Leadership to Improve Patient Based Care seminar in 2011 and the Breaking Down the Barriers seminar in 2012.