Health Issue Centre harnesses the power of technology to deliver consumer engagement forums

Almost 100 consumers came together for two successful community engagement forums in June, despite the challenges of Covid-19 physical distancing.

Health Issues Centre, in partnership with Safer Care Victoria and local health Service stakeholders in Gippsland and metropolitan Melbourne, delivered the two events using online conferencing technology.

Both forums, entitled “Conversations with Consumers” aimed to support local consumer advisors and representatives of health services to think about how to adapt and maintain their engagement with their local consumers and communities, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Danny Vadasz, CEO, Health Issues Centre, presented at both forums and said a global pandemic was no excuse for shutting consumers out.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has made us all realise the power of online platforms,” he said.

“What we have seen is some organisations close shop to their consumers.  But those organisation that have adapted well to using new platforms and technologies have found that engagement with consumers has remained strong.”


On Friday 19th June The Gippsland Regional forum, delivered in partnership with Latrobe Regional Hospital, West Gippsland Healthcare Group and Central Gippsland Health had 38 participants online, including a diverse range of local consumers, health service staff, board and Community Advisory Committee members.

The forum included a presentation from Danny Vadasz, CEO of Health Issues Centre, on innovative ways to maintain engagement with consumers, followed by Q&A and group breakout sessions.

Key themes that emerged included, the importance of consumers and health services maintaining their engagement during difficult times and the recognition of the need to ensure that all consumers voices, however diverse, are heard.

Metro with Alfred Health

On Wednesday 24th June 58 participants including consumers, health service staff and representatives of Safer Care Victoria, attended the Metro Forum, delivered in partnership with Alfred Health.  The forum also included a presentation by Danny Vadasz. This was followed by a co-presentation from Alfred Health’s Katrina Lewis, the Consumer Experience and Patient Participation lead, and Peter Watson, an Alfred Health Consumer Advisor.

This forum highlighted both the strategic and organisational level commitment that Alfred Health has to engaging with its consumers, as well as some of the new initiatives and project’s currently underway, such as the development of an online platform to support consumers to connect with each other and health service staff.

Engaging through technology

The use of ZOOM, as an online platform to deliver these forums to maintain engagement with consumers worked extremely well, particularly at a time when it was fair to say that consumers and health services alike may still be adapting to using the technology.

The overarching takeaway from delivering these forums is that even during pandemics, consumers wish to remain connected with their health services and remain informed of new ideas and initiatives, so that they can continue their ongoing engagement to help contribute to improving health services.