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Challenges to Engaging Women Veterans in Quality Improvement From Patient Care to Policy: Women's Health Managers' Perspectives.

Olmos-Ochoa TT, Luger TM, Oishi A, Dyer KE, Sumberg A, Canelo I, Gideonse TK, Cheney A, Yano EM, Hamilton AB. Challenges to Engaging Women Veterans in Quality Improvement From Patient Care to Policy: Women's Health Managers' Perspectives. Women's health issues : official publication of the Jacobs Institute of Women's Health. 2022 Sep 22; 33(2):199-207.

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INTRODUCTION: Patients are uniquely positioned to identify issues and to provide innovative solutions to problems impacting their care. Yet, patient engagement in quality improvement (QI) and health care governance remains limited and underexplored. In the Veterans Health Administration, the work of women's health managers (WHMs) includes engaging women veterans, a numerical minority with unique health care needs, in QI. We aimed to understand the extent to which WHMs engage women veterans along a continuum, highlight challenges to engagement, and identify potential strategies to facilitate multilevel patient engagement. METHODS: Data were generated from a multisite evaluation to improve delivery of comprehensive women's health care in Veterans Health Administration primary care sites. We conducted 39 semistructured interviews with WHMs across 21 sites. Guided by Carman et al.'s patient engagement framework, we analyzed the interviews using rapid-qualitative and content analysis methods. RESULTS: When effectively engaged, women veterans were important champions and partners in QI activities to improve the structure and delivery of care. However, most WHMs engaged women veterans in mainly informal or passive ways-that is, solicited feedback through comment cards, surveys, focus groups, and townhall meetings-and did not report pursuing more in-depth or long-term forms of engagement. WHMs also identified a variety of facilitators and challenges to engaging women veterans in QI. CONCLUSIONS: There may be unanticipated benefits to health care policy from engaging patients in QI, especially for patients with unique health care needs who represent a minority within the health care system. However, managers require training and workflow integration of patient engagement tasks to increase their efficiency and allow for meaningful patient engagement.

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