Health care quality and patient safety are at the core of most if not all of the new care and reimbursement models that are being adopted by payers and providers.

As a result, hospitals, physician groups and other health care organizations increasingly will have to demonstrate that the care they provide meets the standards set by the models, creating demand for related quality information and best practices.

In order to feed that demand, the American Hospital Association this week unveiled a new membership forum designed to encourage networking and information sharing on the subject.

Called the Symposium for Leaders in Healthcare Quality — the SLHQ acronym is pronounced "slick" — the organization is kicking off its first major networking event with an unusual twist for the industry executives who join early on. Up to 125 patient and family member advisory council members at member health care organizations can apply for a completely free ride to both the 2nd Annual Quality & Patient Safety Roadmap meeting and the Health Forum and AHA Leadership Summit. The two meetings are scheduled to run back-to-back July 19-22 in San Diego. (The first 200 health care industry executives to join SLHQ also can attend the meetings at a very limited cost.)

The theme of the Roadmap conference is around hospital quality and patient safety with patient and family engagement, says Charisse Coulombe, vice president for clinical quality at the Health Research & Educational Trust, which is running the SLHQ.

To improve the patients' experience at the meetings, a patient leader for SLHQ will hold a daily debriefing to sort out the experience. In addition, patients may serve on panels at the Roadmap portion of the meeting, if it can be arranged, she said. "We want them to share their experience," she said.

More broadly, the prominent role of the patient is designed to help reinvigorate the effort to involve patients in care and care design, Coulombe says.

"Every hospital wants to have patients engaged but most hospitals don’t know how to start that journey," and for many that started to, that effort has stalled, she says, adding, "Hospitals will learn from patients and patients will learn from hospitals."

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