Giving Clients a Voice Through the Client Advisory Council

March 26, 2015

You’ve always known that the Clinic supports a client-centered model of care, but have you ever wondered how we get such in-depth client feedback? Beyond listening to each client we see and gathering data from surveys and reviews, we also host an ongoing Client Advisory Council (CAC). The CAC meets every other month and provides invaluable feedback and input about our services.

Participating in the CAC has been a rewarding experience for many of our clients. With their input, they’ve seen practices at the Clinic change for the better. “I wanted so badly to give back to the place that provided me so much support, respect and care; and sure enough, being on this council allowed me such an opportunity,” says one client.

Our CAC is so committed and thoughtful in their feedback that our partners at UCSF took notice. Christine Dehlendorf, M.D., a UCSF researcher, has designed a user-friendly iPad app that is aimed to help women explore different birth control options, potentially making it easier to have a conversation with their provider on which method might be right for them. This app is available to all of our clients, and is being rolled out in phases at several other Bay Area sites as part of a study on how it impacts birth control decisions.

Christine Dehlendorf, MD, MAS

Christine Dehlendorf, MD, MAS

“Lack of knowledge and misconceptions about birth control options is common among women, which means that they can’t make informed decisions about what method to use,” says Dr. Dehlendorf about the problem she’s hoping to solve with this tool. “Choosing a birth control method can be overwhelming when there are so many options, especially in the limited amount of time women often have with their health care providers. I wanted to make it so that every woman could have access to accurate and engaging information before her visit, and have the opportunity to think about what is important to her about her birth control method.”

Our Client Advisory Council has been an integral part of Dehlendorf’s research. From the very beginning, they’ve provided real-user feedback on everything from the design, images, and language of the app, to the methodology of the experiment. “I could not feel luckier to have had the opportunity to have my work enriched by working with the CAC. The final tool reflects their insight in language, visuals and the priorities of women like them who are the audience for the tool,” says Dr. Dehlendorf.

They’re also excited to see how they have impacted change on a grand scale – a potentially national level. Dr. Dehlendorf’s iPad tool was created in partnership with Bedsider.org, a website committed to informing people about birth control options. As part of cutting-edge research on women’s health, our Client Advisory Council members have the opportunity to make their voice heard. As one CAC member remarked, “It’s exceedingly refreshing to see that our voices are heard and appreciated in such a prestigious environment such as UCSF.” And, the feeling is certainly mutual! The UCSF researchers appreciate the CAC’s participation, which they say helped them approach this study with sensitivity, efficiency and accuracy.

The Client Advisory Council provides an excellent opportunity for clients to directly influence the Clinic’s practices and encourages their development as leaders and advocates for women’s health. “Being on this council has allowed me to find my voice on matters of women’s health and the actions we can take as a society to provide a better system with better resources for all females.”

Membership on the Client Advisory Council is open to all current and recently former clients. If you or anyone you know is interested, please contact Dana Kleinhesselink at dana@womenscommunityclinic.org.

Click here to read more stories from this issue of the Annual* Examiner!