Surveys are a good tool from getting feedback from large numbers of people. Townhall events, on the other hand, are a great way to gather more nuanced feedback from a smaller number of people


WHAT is townhall-style event?

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Townhall-style events are times to get members of the clinic community from various stakeholder groups together to discuss ways to improve the clinic.

They are discussions with a diverse group of stakeholders who work together to brainstorm improvements for the clinic. These events should be carefully curated so as to minimize the role of whoever is facilitating the event and maximize the contribution from participants.

  • Townhalls tend to work best when they focus on a specific issue rather than general clinic improvement

  • One option is to take a specific issue revealed from your survey data and use townhalls as a way to figure out how you could best address those issues.

  • For example, imagine that your survey results reveal that patients are finding it difficult to access mental healthcare. In order to effectively address this issue, clinic leaders need to understand why patients are having these difficulties. They can only find this out by creating an environment where patients feel comfortable sharing their opinions.

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WHO should be present at these events?

  • All members of the clinic community should be a part of your dissemination plan, but you may want to present results differently based on what different groups

  • For example, will staff and providers feel comfortable sharing their opinions if clinic leadership are there? Will patients feel comfortable sharing their experiences in the same room as their PCP?

  • Think creatively about blending smaller group discussions that report back to larger group activities to plan for clinic improvements. These small groups are likely to encourage involvement for all participants.

  • Make sure to distribute people with different roles and backgrounds throughout the groups. For example, patients, providers, and staff should be evenly distributed through the small groups

WHEN and WHERE should townhall-style events occur?

It can be difficult to find a time and place that is convenient for all stakeholders in your clinic community. Here are some tips for making it work.

The members of your clinic community know your clinic and the neighborhood around it. Consider holding an event either directly in your clinic. If you decide to hold an event outside of the clinic, here are some places to consider:

  • Public library meeting rooms

  • Private room at a coffee shop or restaurant

  • Community centers

Carefully evaluate when is the best time to hold your townhall event.

  • Holding an event during the workday, especially during a lunch hour, may make it easier for some clinic staff to attend, but it may require finding others who can cover for them. Similarly, some patients may be able to attend during the day but those who work may have difficulty attending a day time session.

  • Evening townhalls may be easier for staff and providers. However, it may be difficult for patients to attend, especially if they have children or other dependents. If you decide to have an evening townhall, consider offering childcare to those who need it.

Other things to consider:

  • If your townhall will be during lunch or dinner time, consider providing a healthy meal. This not only serves as nice reward for those who attend, but eating together can also increase how much the group trusts each other.

  • How will participants get to your townhall? Do you need to help provide transportation?

For more information about hosting townhall-style events to help improve your primary care clinic, please use the following resources:

The Citizen Profession Center

Citizen Health Care: A model for engaging patients, families, and communities as coproducers of health