Person-Centered Engagement at the Organizational Level Change Package
Center for Consumer Engagement in Health Innovation Health Care Transformation Task Force
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Retaining Advisors

The process of retaining advisors in Collaboration and Co-ownership-based engagement strategies is an art, rather than a science. It starts before the person even accepts the role and continues over the course of the time they are involved. Like any relationship, it requires an investment of time, respectful interaction and resources in order to build and maintain trust.

Notes from the Field

At Children’s Mercy, new patient and family advisors receive training, written materials, and ongoing mentoring to support their success. They also work closely with new advisors to match them with the best placement within the organization.


The single most important way to retain advisors is to provide them with meaningful and important work. Advisors can readily tell if they are just “window-dressing” or a means to satisfy externally imposed requirements for consumer engagement. They can also tell if they are being asked for input on, for example, issues that have already been decided upon or communications materials that are about to go to print. Systems should employ the principles of “co-design” in their engagement activities, – the inclusion of consumer advisors as equal partners from the get-go. While the topics of advisors take on may vary, health care organizations should seek to tackle some of the most complex challenges they face, such as the elimination of persistent health disparities, by working with advisors from historically excluded communities.

There are many concrete steps a health care organization can take to promote these relationships while getting the feedback needed to improve the organization’s operations, policies and procedures.

Self-Assessment Questions

On a scale of 1 to 5 (with 1 indicating “strongly disagree” and 5 indicating “strongly agree”), rate your organization’s performance on the following questions:

  • New consumer advisors have a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities.
  • We provide consumer advisors with regular opportunities for ongoing training on relevant topics.
  • My organization seeks feedback from consumer advisors on timely, meaningful and important projects, including projects that specifically seek to address existing health disparities among people who directly bear the burdens of social factors such as poverty, racism and cultural insensitivity.
  • We provide advisors with the supports they need to overcome barriers to participation, including stipends, transportation, language interpretation, childcare and meals.
  • We ensure advisors have what they need in order to meaningfully prepare for – and participate in – meetings. 
  • We provide “virtual” participation options such as videoconference and conference call.
  • Members of our leadership team regularly attend advisory meetings.
  • We regularly recognize the contributions of our advisors with monetary or non-monetary tokens of appreciation.


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The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Foundation.

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