Learning from Citizens About Key Healthcare Issues in Alberta

The Cause

COVID-19 means it is not possible to travel or meet in person with Albertans. Our project is an interactive, discussion based webinar series designed so that Albertans can share their experiences and insights and contribute evidence to inform what policy improvements are needed for Alberta’s health system.

Target Audience:
Albertans who are interested in improving the health system and willing to share their healthcare experiences and journeys. IMAGINE Citizens has a large outreach network through which the webinar series will be promoted.
IMAGINE Citizens’ volunteers are designing three distinct webinars that will be offered September to November 2020. Each webinar will be offered twice to increase participation. To enable active participation each webinar will be limited to 35-40 individuals. We anticipate involving over 200 people.

September 2020:
The Impact of COVID: What have we learned?
An opportunity for Albertans to share their healthcare experiences during the pandemic. How has the pandemic impacted their health or the health of family members? How have experiences changed people’s relationships with healthcare providers or the system? What can we learn about person centred care?

October 2020:
A Deep Dive into Digital Health Tools and Navigating the Health System
An opportunity for Albertans to talk about how digital health tools are (not) helping them navigate Alberta’s health system. The webinar will explore growth in digital technologies, how people use technologies to help them find and access services , barriers that prevent people from using digital health tools and supports needed to help people use digital health tools.

November 2020:
How does the current conflict between physicians and the Provincial Government impact citizens?
How is the conflict between physicians and the government affecting Albertans? What is the impact on care? What is the impact on physicians? What effect is the loss of doctors having on people, especially in rural communities? What are the hopes and expectations of Albertans when it comes to to an ongoing relationship with their physician?

Project Outcomes:
Engaging with Albertans to collect stories and experiences.
Analyzing stories and experiences using rigorous analytic methods to create evidence to inform policy.
Drafting and sharing three white papers that document what matters most to Albertans.
Bringing citizens perspectives and experiences forward to influence policy in our province.

Who Will it Benefit?

• First it will provide a safe and welcoming space for about 200 Albertans with diverse backgrounds and experiences to engage meaningfully in discussions about their lived experiences. Patients (often supported by loved ones) are the only people who are present for every encounter in their health care journey. Their experiences provide a unique source of evidence and insight that must be considered as we collectively plan for and implement changes, improvements, and supports for health care in Alberta.
• Second, all Albertans have the potential eventually to benefit from this webinar series as insights will be shared to inform policy (at provincial and organizational levels). Patients and citizens must be valued partners in guiding their own personal health journeys as well as planning for services and policies that affect all of us. Every opportunity to hear and share what matters to Albertans is a step towards a person center healthcare system in Alberta. This project has the potential to benefit all Albertans as IMAGINE Citizens moves forward to influence healthcare policy in Alberta, and to strengthen our position as a valued and independent partner in improving healthcare experiences and outcomes.
• Third, health care policy makers and health organizations will benefit from hearing, from an independent partner, what matters to Albertans. Although there are other venues for Albertans to provide feedback about their experiences, these mechanisms and processes are all controlled by organizations and policy makers who are embedded in the system. Health care systems and organizations need alternate ways to provide feedback; this webinar series and IMAGINE Citizens' other work facilitates independent feedback and insight.
• Fourth, IMAGINE Citizens will benefit as we seek to involve more Albertans in our activities as a result of each initiative we organize. We know that a proportion of individuals we engage with in activities (such as webinars) become engaged in other ways with our Society. An additional benefit of this project is that our volunteers and those we engage with will gain valuable experience about how to effectively network and meaningfully interact in virtual forums. As we continue to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, leveraging virtual engagement is going to be critical.