Patient and Family Engagement in Primary Care

Case Studies

Research shows that patient engagement in health care can lead to measurable improvements in safety and quality. To promote stronger engagement, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality is developing a guide to help patients, families, and health professionals in primary care settings work together as partners to promote improvements in care. The guide will contain interventions that can be implemented in primary care practices. In addition to the development of interventions, exemplar primary care practices were identified. The case studies below describe the experiences of several exemplar practices that have increased patient and family engagement in primary care and affected patient safety.


OpenNotes is a tool that gives patients access to their medical records so they can read encounter notes. Patients can access their notes online through the patient portal or in hard copy from a printout.

  • Patient Access to Medical Notes in Primary Care: Improving Engagement and Safety—Case Study (PDF File, 198.42 KB).

One-Page Summaries

  • OpenNotes: Giving Patients Access to Medical Notes—For Providers (PDF File, 109.93 KB).
  • OpenNotes for Patients: Access Your Own Medical Notes—For Patients (PDF File, 120.2 KB).

Partnering To Improve Safety, Quality, and the Patient Experience

A Patient and Family Advisory Committee (PFAC) is a group of patients, family members, office staff, and primary care providers working together to improve safety, quality, and the patient experience.

  • Partnering With Patients To Improve Quality, Safety, and the Patient Experience—Case Study (PDF File, 147.54 KB).

One-Page Summaries

  • Partnering To Improve Safety, Quality, and the Patient Experience—For Providers (PDF File, 122.91 KB).
  • Partnering To Improve Safety, Quality, and the Patient Experience—For Patients (PDF File, 122.95 KB).

Team-Based Care

Team-based care is a transformative method of delivering care that emphasizes teamwork. In addition to the patient and family, the care team may include a doctor or nurse practitioner, registered nurse, care team coordinator, schedule, and even pharmacist or social worker.

  • Team-Based Primary Care: Convergence of Improving Engagement, Safety, and Enhanced Joy in Practice—Case Study (PDF File, 143.05 KB).

One-Page Summaries

  • Team-Based Care: Improving Safety, Engagement, and Joy—For Providers (PDF File, 89.69 KB).
  • Team-Based Care: Work in Partnership With Your Health Care Team—For Patients (PDF File, 117.3 KB).

Shared Decisionmaking

Shared decisionmaking is a way to work with your doctor to make decisions about your health care. It helps you and your family better understand your care and treatment options so you can select the care plan that is best for you.

  • Shared Decisionmaking To Improve Patient Safety, Education, and Empowerment—Case Study (PDF File, 361 KB).

One-Page Summaries

  • Shared Decisionmaking: Improving Patient Safety, Education, and Empowerment—For Providers (PDF File, 97 KB).
  • Shared Decisionmaking: Making the Best Decision for You—For Patients (PDF File, 152 KB).

Return to Guide to Improving Patient Safety in Primary Care Settings by Engaging Patients and Families

Page last reviewed December 2017
Page originally created May 2016
Internet Citation: Patient and Family Engagement in Primary Care. Content last reviewed December 2017. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.
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