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consumer health information

Nov 16, 2012


Health professionals are often resistant to the notions of consumer and community engagement and shared-decision making, according to collaborative decision-making specialist Max Hardy.

Hardy, a director of the consultancy group Twyfords, responds below to some of the common objections to such concepts.


The missing ingredient in our health system

Max Hardy writes:

So what is all this fuss about consumer engagement; patient partnering; shared decision-making, patient-centred care and even more obscure perhaps, community engagement? Our health standards demand that we attend to such notions.

But the reaction of health professionals and especially clinicians tends to be either:

1. Where is the evidence that this makes any difference to health outcomes?

2. But we’ve been doing this our whole professional lives!

3. What is it meant to do or achieve?

4. I’m not really sure what it all means.

Let’s have a go at responding to each of these reactions. Continue reading “Busting some myths about consumer and community engagement in health decision-making”

health reform

Oct 18, 2010


This post continues a Croakey discussion about the new primary health care organisations to be known as Medicare Locals. It is responding to a request from GP Access, the trading name for the Hunter Urban Division of General Practice, about how they could engage consumers in their planned transformation into a Medicare Local.

Tony McBride, a consultant on consumer and community engagement and the Chair of the Australian Health Care Reform Alliance, has some practical advice for wanna-be PHCOs.

Tony McBride writes:

The actual directions of post election health reform are still wrapped somewhat in the mists of the New World Order that is now Federal politics.

However, GP Access’s bold move to work out how it should actively engage with its community sparks both optimism and anxieties. It should be congratulated both for wanting to actively engage the community, and also immediately putting policy into practice by asking them how to do it. Fantastic.

For the sake of this post, I will put aside my significant anxieties about the diversity of roles expected of PHCOs and offer some humble suggestions that might be useful in enhancing this approach. But first let’s consider some context. Continue reading “How to engage consumers: some advice for Medicare Locals”

health reform

Oct 15, 2010


Croakey is hosting a discussion about the new primary health care organisations to be known as Medicare Locals. We’re crowdsourcing ideas about how to effectively engage consumers in setting their priorities and directions.

In a previous post, Carol Bennett from the Consumers Health Forum cautioned against tokenistic approaches to consumer engagement.

In the article below, health policy analyst Jennifer Doggett says there is good evidence that consumer engagement can make a difference to health policies and programs, but that we need more research to establish the best mechanisms for it.

Jennifer Doggett writes:

I agree with Consumers’ Health Forum executive director Carol Bennett that consumer involvement in Medicare Locals (MLs) is not just about tokenism or political correctness. Consumer involvement is about making MLs work better – that is more efficiently and effectively – to meet community needs. This aim is based on research which shows that consumer involvement improves the delivery of health programs and services.

In a report I prepared for the Consumers’ Health Forum earlier this year I looked at the impact of consumer representatives on medical decisions and outcomes.

Based on a literature review and case studies with Australian consumer representatives, I found good evidence that consumer representatives had influenced the delivery of health policies and programs in a number of ways.

These included: identifying consumer issues relevant to a medical/health program or service; improving the design and targeting of health communication strategies; influencing the content of medical education and training programs; influencing reporting requirements; influencing the content of health policies; contributing to a cultural shift to broader views on consumer participation in health policy and program development; changing the rhetoric and terminology of health policies and communications to reflect consumer experience; and achieving improvements in transparency of committee decision making processes. Continue reading “Engaging consumers in health policy and programs: what does the evidence say?”