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UBC Health works to advance excellence in collaborative health education, interdisciplinary health research, and improvements in health systems. But that work wouldn’t be possible without the involvement of patients and community members.
Long-time community partner, Darren Lauscher, shares his experience and vision for patient engagement at UBC Health.
Darren is an advocate for people and families living with HIV/AIDS and is actively involved at the local, provincial, and national levels. He has been a mentor and course facilitator with UBC since 2010 and has served on numerous planning and advisory committees. He has been involved with UBC Health for many years—he is co-chair of the Patient and Community Advisory Committee, a member of Health Council, and a mentor with the Health Mentors Program. More recently, he joined the Health Systems Advisory Committee and was a member of the 2021 Health Innovation Funding Investment Awards review committee.
Engaging patients is a process of collaboration, respect, and trust building. It’s about recognizing the expertise of all the individuals around the table and harnessing our strengths to craft the final result.
“Engaging patients is a process of collaboration, respect, and trust building,” says Darren. “It’s about recognizing the expertise of all the individuals around the table and harnessing our strengths to craft the final result. Understanding the end goal and working together to achieve that goal will enable all parties to walk away feeling they have accomplished something together and the product is better than it would have been without that collaboration.”
Whether it’s through sharing an individual’s healthcare journey or a broader community perspective, patient engagement offers unique insights. For health program faculty and instructors, it can involve helping to guide the development and delivery of curriculum. For students, it can enrich their health professional training. For researchers, it can expand areas of exploration. And for policymakers, it can help focus priorities for system improvements.
“Patient engagement is about including a patient from the get-go in health delivery—whether it’s on the education side, on the research side, in the doctor setting, or in the hospital setting,” says Darren. “Without the patient, you’re making decisions about a person without their involvement and input. You can have all these experts around the table, but is it really going to work for the patient? It’s important to include the patient perspective throughout the process—they are the experts in their own lives.”
Patients also benefit from engagement opportunities.
“Volunteering is a way for people to give back to the system that has helped them,” says Darren. “A part of that for me is recognizing the important role that education has and seeing the knowledge transfer—closing the loop from research and the community and bringing it back into the classroom, bringing textbook learning alive through the usage of a patient and the input they bring.”
Around the table, we all have to work together and champion and invigorate across disciplines to produce the best students, the best outcomes, and the best research possible.
Darren asserts that there is vast potential for patient and community engagement and untapped expertise should not only be applied to the health systems space but to health research as well. UBC Health agrees and endeavors to engage diverse public and patient perspectives to inform work across all of its core areas.
“Patients don’t always see themselves as just educators,” says Darren. “I cross back and forth between education and research. I sit on several research projects as a patient and representing community. There are opportunities for patients to be co-investigators, knowledge brokers, peer researchers, research assistants, administering questionnaires. As the convener of collaboration, UBC Health could potentially expand upon those opportunities.”
The future for patient and community engagement is bright. UBC Health will continue to seek out diverse perspectives and innovative ideas from the community to influence health in BC.
“Around the table, we all have to work together and champion and invigorate across disciplines to produce the best students, the best outcomes, and the best research possible,” says Darren. “That’s part of a university’s mandate. So, do we want to produce mediocracy, or do we want to be the gold standard university? I think we want the gold standard.”
Posted April 14, 2022