As we eagerly anticipate the upcoming e-Health 2024 conference at the end of May, I invite you to join me in an important conversation about the state of engagement for persons with lived experience (PWLE) in Canadian healthcare.  

‘Nothing About Me, Without Me’: 

Statistics reveal a concerning reality: despite efforts to prioritize patient-centered care, and the rhetoric of putting patients first, there remains a significant disparity in engagement of PWLE at the vast majority of decision-making tables.  These decisions – that shape the future of healthcare – are often made without meaningful input from those directly impacted. This disconnect not only hampers the effectiveness of healthcare initiatives, but also perpetuates inequities within the system (including research, service delivery and access to care). There exists an urgent need for greater inclusion and collaboration across the healthcare sector. Which begs a huge congratulations to e-Health 2024 for investing in, and incorporating, Patient Partners as part of their conference.      

Addressing the Challenges: 

We know that engaging PWLE can improve care and lead to new and important insights.i However, a recent survey of patient partners working across multiple health system settings in Canada revealed that  less than 50% were able to see how their input was reflected in decisions or changesii.  While the challenges of engaging PWLE in a meaningful way are multifaceted, they are by no means insurmountable. By continuing to leverage technology, fostering partnerships, and advocating for policy reforms, we can create a more inclusive and responsive healthcare system that truly serves the needs of all persons living in Canada. 

Bridging the Knowledge-to-Action Gap: 

The time for action is now. Let’s come together to spark meaningful dialogue, inspire change, and pave the way for a healthcare system where every voice counts. I encourage you to seek me out and speak out – during the conference or otherwise – to ask all the questions, as well as share your insights, experiences, and ideas for building a more person-centered system. I look forward to connecting with you and working towards a future where “engagement” is not just a buzzword, but a fundamental principle that guides our collective efforts towards better health for all.  

See you at the conference! 

Shauna Almas  

Senior Director, HealthPartners