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Partnering with consumers: national standards and lessons from other countries

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Effective partnership requires professionals and consumers to redefine their roles and responsibilities

Partnering with consumers is a national priority and central driver of global health care reform.1,2 The National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards stipulate that partnering with consumers is a central component of safe, high-quality care, and a performance indicator against which health care organisations will be assessed and accredited.2

Consumer participation is a complex and dynamic concept.3 Australian health services are currently undergoing the challenging task of understanding what consumer participation means and how it can be used to improve health and health care. Opportunities for consumer participation are diverse: education and training,4 research,5 accreditation,6 service design and evaluation, policy, patient care and treatment.7 Empirical evidence describing the best methods to involve consumers and the effects of that involvement is limited,1,5,7 leaving health services…