In light of the disparate impacts of COVID-19 on communities of color and the broader push for racial justice, health care organizations are prioritizing health and racial equity within their work. There is increasing recognition that meaningful partnerships with patients and communities of color can help these organizations more effectively understand, address, and reduce health disparities. While health care leaders see the value of partnering with patients, many are uncertain about how to advance effective and scalable strategies to ensure patient voices are intentionally woven into organizational decision making.

To address barriers to effective partnership between health care systems and patients — such as systemic power imbalances, lack of trust from patients, and cultural differences —the Center for Health Care Strategies (CHCS), with support from the New York State Health Foundation, is coordinating a 12-month learning collaborative with up to ten New York-based health care organizations. The learning collaborative aims to strengthen participating organizations’ capacity to:

  • More intentionally partner with patients and communities of color through existing or new mechanisms, including patient ambassador programs, advisory councils, and digital engagement tools;
  • Develop an action plan to use patient engagement strategies more effectively within internal health equity improvement efforts, such as quality improvement and patient-centered measurement; and
  • Sustain and expand these efforts by integrating patient engagement strategies into existing organizational structures and mechanisms.

Participating sites will receive tailored one-on-one technical assistance and take part in group learning opportunities that enable peer-to-peer exchange, project implementation support, and discussions on challenges and best practices. CHCS will also distill lessons from the participating sites and publicly share emerging strategies to support other health care organizations seeking to engage patients and communities of color more intentionally.