The Consumers Health Forum’s ShiftingGears Summit, saw over 800 delegates taking part in an energised discussion about the importance of consumer participation in transforming and improving health services. No longer content to just receive health care, consumers spoke up about the need for greater engagement at all levels of health service: from planning to delivery, research and management. They want a healthcare system where patient input isn’t just box-ticking a questionnaire but full partnership, with consumers engaged in every aspect of health delivery – with the conversation moving from what can medical science do to what do you want, why and will it make your life better?
The multi-national virtual gathering, with representatives from Australia, New Zealand, the UK and Canada, sparked spirited debate on moving consumers to the very heart of health service planning, with co-design and the power of digital technology highlighted as two critical tools to empowering consumers.
But there were also concerns about access and lip-service that didn’t provide meaningful change, to the slowness of change, and to ensuring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, Maori and other First Nations people were given culturally appropriate care and access, and that the digital revolution didn’t further isolate people without the internet or digital devices.
CroakeyVoices spoke to a range of delegates about the opportunities and challenges ahead:
- Vincent Dumez. Codirector of the Centre of Excellence on Partnership with Patients and the Public at University of Montreal.
- Kellie O’Callaghan. Consumer advocate. Past chair of a regional health service and involved in a range of state and local health-focused boards and committees.
- Craig Cooper. Consumer advocate and member of the NSW Health Clinical Excellence Commission Consumer Council
- Rosemary Ainley. Editor of CreakyJoints Australia and co-leader of the Young Women’s Arthritis Support Group
- Kelly Foran. Founder Friendly Faces Helping Hands Foundation and consumer advocate
- Roxxanne McDonald. Consumer Health Forum Board Director and YHF Young leader.