> Provider Corner | Opportunities for Optimizing Consumer Input: Positive Champions, Ormond Beach, FL
After years of being an important voice in raising awareness around HIV and addressing HIV-related stigma in Northeast Florida, Positive Champions has been expanding their focus. This is a natural outgrowth of their past work and their close involvement with the National Quality Center. Now, Positive Champions is becoming more involved in enhancing the quality of HIV care provided in the region in collaboration with the local planning consortium and AIDS service organizations.
"We are moving into an advisory role, working with case managers to identify areas where care needs to be improved," says Jeff Allen, Positive Champions' founder. "We are a part of the system and we are working within that system."
In conjunction with the consortium, Positive Champions is organizing quarterly focus groups of consumers. Data collected from the groups are used to inform the consortium's decisions. The first focus group took place in July and focused on the upcoming re-competition of the region's case management contract.
The focus groups are promoted at all of the clinics, hospitals, and Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program-funded providers as well as local libraries. Jeff has met with case managers to enlist their help with enrollment.
"We emphasize that participation is easy, people should not be intimidated in any way," says Jeff. "We even have translators available if people do not speak English."
In addition to the focus groups, a new consumer advisory group (CAB), coordinated by Positive Champions, has been incorporated into the consortium. The CAB has developed a process for soliciting input from other consumers and resolving care-related issues.
"If a client has a concern, rather than going directly to the provider they can use the CAB to help them navigate the process," says Jeff. "Some consumers are afraid to raise their concerns. They feel like they don't have a voice."
Consumers can now approach a member of the CAB with an issue. The CAB will record and document it, report it to the lead agency, take the issue to the service provider, and work to mitigate it until it is resolved.
To ensure the success of these new activities, Positive Champions has increased training opportunities for members. In recent months, members have received training related to health literacy, cultural competence, effective engagement in HIV care, and how to engage men who have sex with men.
"As we look to increase our role in quality-related efforts, we recognize the needs to build our skills," says Jeff. "I use the information I have gained from the NQC as a basis for this work."