Person-Centered Engagement at the Organizational Level Change Package
Center for Consumer Engagement in Health Innovation Health Care Transformation Task Force
Return to Main Site

Developing a Plan for Engaging Consumers

This section covers the steps the planning team should consider when developing an organization-level strategy for engaging consumers and discusses four broad categories of engagement. The steps outlined here include assessing preexisting engagement policies, gathering data on the patient population and community, selecting engagement strategies, and building an outreach plan. While these steps are presented in a linear fashion, this process is, in fact, an iterative process. The planning workgroup should actively seek feedback from patients, community members and staff throughout this process and be prepared to revise the strategy as necessary. It may be helpful for workgroup members to intentionally implement a quality improvement framework such as Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA).

Types of Engagement Approaches

Engagement approaches typically fall into one of four main categories: communication, consultation, collaboration and co-ownership.

  • Communication and Consultation approaches involve a one-way flow of information from the organization to the consumer or vice versa.
  • Collaboration and Co-ownership approaches involve the bidirectional flow of information and require the creation of deeper relationships between organizations and the consumers and communities they serve.

All four categories of engagement approaches have their benefits and drawbacks. Ideally, an organization will employ a mix of strategies drawing from all four categories in order to engage patients and families with different perspectives.

Organizations truly dedicated to person-centered engagement should invest in collaboration and co-ownership strategies that promote the bidirectional flow of information.

Note: This section describes four engagement strategy categories; Collaboration, Co-ownership, Communication and Consultation. Health care organizations are often already familiar with the Communication and Consultation strategies typified by the one-way flow of information to or from consumers. While these strategies are an acceptable component of a larger plan, organizations that are truly dedicated to person-centered engagement must also incorporate Collaboration and/or Co-ownership strategies that foster bidirectional information exchange.

Key steps for the planning team in strategy development

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:

  • The planning workgroup has a clear understanding of how our current policies impact patient engagement efforts.
  • My organization has used existing data sources to develop a preliminary understanding of strengths and opportunities for improvement in consumer engagement.
  • My organization has used data to develop a profile of the community we serve (e.g., demographics, economic status, resources, needs, and health care conditions) to inform engagement planning.
  • Our engagement planning effort has a timeline with clear, attainable and measurable goals that are tied to the organization’s overall strategic plan.
  • The planning workgroup has identified a clear set of outreach opportunities and developed a strategy to invite patients to participate in engagement strategies.


  1. Foundational Materials
  2. Tips and Tools
  3. Additional Resources
The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Foundation.

Subscribe to Health Innovation Highlights

Health Innovation Highlights is a monthly newsletter that covers news and advocacy surrounding innovative projects underway to improve the U.S. health care system with the goal of realizing high-quality, equitable and people-centered care.

Subscribe now