The AAFP is bringing together patients, family physicians and researchers for a new type of conference on June 29 aimed at increasing patient engagement.
AAFP National Research Network (NRN) Director Jennifer Carroll, M.D., M.P.H., told AAFP News that this first Family Medicine and Patient Engagement Conference in Kansas City, Mo., will emphasize interactivity and knowledge that physicians can immediately take back to their practices. General sessions and breakouts will examine how to create a vision for patient engagement, how to build outside collaborations, how to assess patient engagement and how to foster inclusiveness and diversity in engagement.
Including patients as panelists alongside family physicians and researchers will let patients give critical input on how they can be better engaged.
To balance the communication and ensure good representation, registration is capped for each of the three categories of attendees. Registration is $149 for physicians and researchers through May 25 and $199 afterward.
"Family physicians have a unique opportunity to drive the discussion around patient engagement in research and their own practice settings," Carroll said. "This conference will provide a venue and format that supports creative and open dialogue among groups who do not often have the opportunity to communicate.
"The intent is to provide an opportunity to promote the importance of contributions from patients, elevate their voices and allow for the articulation of shared goals between a patient and family physician."
In addition to sending physicians home armed with data to make "next day" changes, the conference aims to prepare physicians to participate in the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI).
Early Findings from Related Research Project
The patient engagement conference is part of a larger set of activities conducted by the AAFP's NRN and funded by PCORI.
In phase 1 of this project, the NRN learned how practices currently involve patients in strategies to improve care, outcomes and research. NRN researchers conducted an online survey and then visited six family medicine practices that are actively embracing patients in research or quality improvement.
The work completed in phase 1 is summarized in an NRN issue brief(437 KB PDF) and was a starting point for planning discussion at the upcoming conference.
The online survey found that patient engagement was important to family physicians who completed the survey, no matter their seniority, practice setting or current engagement activities.
The survey also indicated that the "highest levels of enthusiasm for patient engagement is in improving care and ensuring that outcomes are aligned with patients' values," the project report said. "While still seen as important, there was more moderated enthusiasm for how patient engagement might influence research that informs evidence-based care."
The site visits revealed a diversity in the approach and practice culture for each office that was actively tackling patient engagement. This included leading engagement through participation in practice-based research, outreach to vulnerable populations and incorporating patient experience across all clinic activities.
After the conference, the AAFP plans to widely share ideas and practices for increasing patient engagement that are practical, easily adopted and improvement-oriented.
"Rather than wait for the 'perfect' solution, the key objective of the meeting is to offer participants distilled, simple, yet meaningful steps they can adopt quickly," the project report said, adding that these steps also must be easy and low-cost.
Carroll concluded that the family physicians, patients and researchers who attend the conference might find benefit beyond helping to improve patient engagement practices.
"Because we will be bringing together a diverse group of participants to engage in a safe and collaborative setting, we expect attendees to be impacted on a personal level by their participation in this conference," she said.
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