Patient and staff engagement involves communicating two pieces of information:
Explain to patients and staff why the hospital needs demographic data both for service (e.g. interpreter) and non-service related reasons (e.g. improve quality and achieve health equity)
Ensure patients and staff recognize how the data will help the hospital stay committed to the why (i.e. by linking patient level data to health outcomes)
Patient education around the why and the how is central to patient engagement; once patients understand the importance of demographic data to providing the best care possible, they are significantly more likely to share that information.1 For more information on how to frame the project to patients, please refer to the section on training data collectors.
Patients can also be engaged through communication tools such as posters placed near data collection locations and brochures that include Frequently Asked Questions.
Staff resistance is the most commonly cited barrier to demographic data collection in hospitals2, and is rooted in:
- Lack of familiarity with project goals
- Poor and inconsistent training on asking sensitive demographic questions
- Failure to explain and demonstrate to staff both the why behind demographic data collection and to demonstrate the how
- Lack of understanding about the relationship between the human and economic costs of healthcare inequities, demographic data collection, a new opportunity to have a strong impact on patient well-being, and changed organizational values
Tools and means of engaging employees may include:
Presentations may be given at staff meetings and workshops, tailored to the audience and the venue. For example:
- Audience composed of managers and supervisors – details about the project and its relation to long-term equity planning
- Staff directly working with patients – logistics of data collection and how data collection will fit with their work-flow
Refer staff to where they can obtain further details about the project.
Internal hospital communication tools
The demographic data collection project can be introduced using email, the intranet, or an online newsletter.
Those building organization-wide support should consider a variety of the benefits obtained from data collection; while one reason for collecting the data may appeal to one stakeholder, it may be irrelevant to another.
Next page: 3.4. Define Goals for Data Collection
- New Hampshire Health & Equity Partnership, (nd). Data: Key points, recommendations, current initiatives, and resources. Retrieved from http://www.healthynh.com/nhhep-data.html ↩
- Interviews during the period of August-October 2012 with Guwan Jones (Director of Health Equity at Texas Baylor Healthcare System), Nancy Connery (Director of Admissions at Massachusetts General Hospital), Natalie Sabino (Lehigh Valley Health Network Cultural Liaison), Ramona Hasnain-Wynia (Director and Scientific Program Leader at Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute), and Sarah Bowen (Professor in the School of Public Health at the University of Alberta) ↩