From improving health outcomes to fostering enhanced communication and informed decision-making, Women’s College Hospital (WCH) is committed to patient engagement – ensuring that diverse and equity deserving communities and patients are actively engaged in the patient-care model.
This commitment to patient partnership and collaboration continues to evolve and develop. Most recently through the launch of a new model of patient engagement called Equity Mobilizing Partnerships in Community (EMPaCT). Launched in 2021 EMPaCT aims to shape healthcare projects and initiatives nationwide by including diverse patients in the conversation.
“Patients from communities underserved by healthcare systems continue to be underrepresented,” says Dr. Ambreen Sayani, scientific lead for EMPaCT. “When diverse patient perspectives are excluded from patient engagement activities, we end up perpetuating health inequities.”
With an award-winning patient engagement framework, EMPaCT has been collaboratively developed with diverse patient partners to enhance healthcare systems and facilitate impactful and fair patient partnerships that drive lasting transformation.
EMPaCT jumpstarts change by offering Health Equity Analyses (HEAs) for project implementers, also known as EMPaCT Impact Partners. These HEA assessments and recommendations are conducted by a community-based group of people with diverse lived experiences. Through these assessments, EMPaCT Impact Partners gain insights into how their project might affect various communities, potential unforeseen consequences that could arise and strategies to better address health equity.
“As a patient partner, the biggest impact for me is the shift of power to the EMPaCT table which creates a safe space for us to share our insights with those who come to our table,” says Alies Maybee, patient partner and co-initiator of EMPaCT.
“Many research teams and decision-makers want to do more inclusive and equity-driven patient engagement but struggle to do so without the appropriate tools, skills and resources,” Sayani adds.
“EMPaCT fills this knowledge gap by providing experiential learning opportunities. We co-create new and innovative models of inclusive patient engagement so that healthcare projects and decisions reflect the priorities of diverse community members.”
Since its inception, EMPaCT has involved six hospitals and four organizations throughout Ontario in HEAs. Learnings have been shared in two papers, twenty confidential reports to project implementers and eighteen national and international presentations encompassing workshops and keynote speeches.
“We are building a bottom-up community driven healthy equity movement,” says Dr. Sayani. “By making tangible, equity-oriented changes in multiple projects across the Canadian healthcare ecosystem, we are planting seeds for sustained and long-term impact to enhance patient experience, improve population health, reduce cost of care and promote equity. Currently, we are in conversation with regional, provincial and national health organizations who are interested in seeding their own EMPaCTs within their own jurisdictions.”
To establish healthcare systems that are fair and just, we need to listen to communities that have historically borne the brunt of inequitable healthcare systems. EMPaCT is one way we can start that conversation. To learn more, visit https://www.womensresearch.ca/empact/.