Engaging Patients and Families in Their Health Care

Whether you see patients at a hospital, primary care office, or other setting, time is often limited and patients and family members who have prioritized their questions or concerns will experience the most meaningful, efficient visits. To help you and your patients get the most out of your time together, AHRQ offers these free resources that you can use with your team and share with your patients.

For Hospital Staff

Guide to Patient and Family Engagement in Hospital Quality and Safety
This guide provides evidence-based resources that show how hospital staff can work as partners with patients and families to improve quality and safety.

CUSP Toolkit—Patient and Family Engagement Module
CUSP, or the Comprehensive Unit-based Safety Program, makes patient care safer by improving the ways that all members of the health care team work together. Use this module to help patients and family members understand what's happening during the patient's stay, how they can be active participants in the patient's care, and what to do when they are ready to leave the hospital.

Communication and Optimal Resolution (CANDOR) Toolkit
The Communication and Optimal Resolution (CANDOR) process is a process that health care institutions and practitioners can use to respond in a timely, thorough, and just way when unexpected events cause patient harm.

Guide for Developing a Community-Based Patient Safety Advisory Council
Involving individuals and organizations in a patient safety advisory council can promote change through education, collaboration, and consumer engagement. Councils can involve patients, consumers, and practitioners from health care and community organizations.

Re-Engineered Discharge (RED) Toolkit
Reducing hospital readmissions is a major policy and patient safety goal. Use this toolkit to help re-engineer your discharge process to reduce readmissions and post-hospital emergency department visits. The toolkit includes reminders about new medications and follow-up visits, along with a new section on overcoming language barriers among patients and clinical staff.

Medications at Transitions and Clinical Handoffs (MATCH) for Medication Reconciliation
Learn about the processes that help detect and prevent medication discrepancies and adverse drug events. The toolkit is based on processes developed in acute care settings, but it can also be used in non-acute care settings.

Making Informed Consent an Informed Choice: Training Modules for Health Care Leaders and Professionals
These training modules provide tools to hospital leaders and health care professionals to improve informed consent policy and practice.

For Patients and Families in the Hospital

Taking Care of Myself: A Guide for When I Leave the Hospital
Providers can use this guide to give patients the information they need to help them care for themselves when they leave the hospital.

Staying Active and Healthy With Blood Thinners (video)
This 10-minute video shows how small changes in daily routines can help people take blood thinners safely.

Blood Thinner Pills: Your Guide to Using Them Safely
This easy-to-read booklet educates people about blood thinners and offers basic information about the medication; tips on diet, medicines, and foods to avoid; important precautions for some daily activities; and when to seek help.

For Medical Office Staff

Guide to Improving Patient Safety in Primary Care Settings by Engaging Patients and Families
This project focuses on developing approaches to improve patient safety in primary care settings by engaging patients and families.

Improving Your Office Testing Process: Patient Engagement Survey
This survey can help you to assess your patients' understanding of their tests and their knowledge about what they should do after receiving test results.

For Patients and Families in the Medical Office

Waiting Room Video
This video features patients and clinicians discussing the importance of asking questions at medical visits.

My Questions for This Visit
Patients can use this list of questions to take active role in their health care.

Be More Involved In Your Health Care: Tips for Patients
This brochure gives patients tips to use before, during, and after a medical appointment to make sure they get the best possible care.

Question Builder
The Question Builder helps patients create a list of questions they can take to appointments if they are getting a checkup, talking about a problem or health condition, getting a prescription, or discussing a medical test or surgery.

Patient Prep Card
This card lets patients record their questions and health goals before medical appointments.

Patient Note Sheet
This card helps patients record important information they receive during medical appointments.

Next Steps After Your Diagnosis
This page offers general advice for people with almost any disease or condition. And it has tips to help you learn more about your specific problem and how it can be treated.

Treatment Options
These pages encourage patients to explore their treatment options, compare benefits and risks, and prepare for medical appointments.

Research Summaries for Consumers
These free research summaries discuss the benefits and risks of different treatments for different health conditions and are based on comparative effectiveness reviews that cover health topics suggested by the public.

20 Tips to Help Prevent Medical Errors
These tips tell what patients what they can do to get safer care.

How to Create a Pill Card
Patients, parents, or anyone who needs to keep track of their medicines can create an easy-to-use "pill card" using the instructions and sample clip art on this page.

Patients and Providers Discuss Importance of Asking Questions
In these short videos, patients talk about how simple questions can help you take better care of yourself, feel better, and get the right care at the right time. Doctors and nurses talk about how your questions help them take better care of you and give advice on how you can be an active member of your health care team and get your questions answered.

For Long-Term Care Facility Staff

Toolkit To Educate and Engage Residents and Family Members
This toolkit helps nursing homes encourage an open and respectful dialogue between nurses and prescribing clinicians and residents and their family members and helps residents and family members participate in their care.

For Ambulatory Surgery Center Staff

Patient and Family Engagement in the Surgical Environment
These slide sets, facilitator notes, guides, tools, and videos help staff in ambulatory surgery centers engage patients and families in their care.

For Patients and Families in Ambulatory Surgery Centers

Getting Ready for Your Ambulatory Surgery
This 2-page patient brochure helps patients and their families prepare for ambulatory surgeries and other procedures performed in outpatient settings.

Page last reviewed May 2017
Page originally created July 2014
Internet Citation: Engaging Patients and Families in Their Health Care. Content last reviewed May 2017. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/professionals/quality-patient-safety/patient-family-engagement/index.html