PATCH® stands for Providers and Teens Communicating for Health. As an innovative, youth-driven program, we educate, engage, and empower youth to help create positive change. We work directly with young people to ensure youth voice is included in decisions that affect young people, to improve adolescent health care quality, and to improve the overall health and well-being of their generation. After all, who could be more equipped to provide authentic insights into the concerns, needs, preferences, and realities of adolescents than adolescents themselves?

Improving adolescent health WITH youth FOR youth...
Because THEY are the experts.
THEY can make a difference.
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Highlight Reels

Enjoy highlights & celebrations of the innovative work PATCH does each year!

PATCH, briefly yet originally known as the Wisconsin Adolescent Health Care Communication Program (WAHCCP), began in 2010 when the National Institute for Reproductive Health awarded the Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health (WAWH) a single $10,000 grant to build upon the success of a New York City peer education program – the Teen Outreach Reproductive CHallenge, or TORCH®. The purpose was to replicate their program in Dane County, Wisconsin, with the hope of promoting open, honest, and medically accurate sexual and reproductive health conversations between local adolescents and their health care providers. Teen Educators from the Madison metropolitan area were hired and trained to facilitate two workshops – one for their peers (Keeping It Real with Your Doctor) and one for health care professionals (Keeping It Real with Your Patients). These initial workshops aimed to reduce communication barriers between adolescents and health care professionals related to sexual and reproductive health issues.

After our initial pilot year, a two-year grant was awarded in 2011 from the Wisconsin Partnership Program to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the adapted program in partnership with an academic affiliate. The rigorous evaluation showed significant improvements in provider and teen knowledge, self-efficacy, and behavioral intentions to provide and seek quality sexual health care. Health care providers also self-reported behavior change, even with systemic barriers, three-months after the workshop. The evaluation also suggested a need to address additional health topics, such as mental health, in programing. These findings were published in the Wisconsin Medical Journal.

In 2014, the Wisconsin Adolescent Health Care Communication Program rebranded to the Providers and Teens Communicating for Health (PATCH®) Program to reflect the ongoing changes being made to the initial framework. Informed by youth, academic partners, community stakeholders, professional organizations, and existing research, the revised program, which brought significant changes in workshop content and delivery, aimed to better address the underlying factors that impact adolescent patient-provider communication.

This revised program became the Core PATCH Package as it functions today, a replicable program that integrates principles from positive youth development, workforce development, theories in health education and health promotion (e.g., Social Ecological Model and the Activated Health Education Model), and frameworks used in implementation science.


The PATCH Program was first replicated in 2014 with funding from Security Health Plan. In this pilot replication effort, a county public health agency in rural Wisconsin hired, trained, and supervised a team of youth to implement the Core PATCH Package. A year later, the Wisconsin Partnership Program awarded additional funds to broadened replication into an urban Wisconsin community.

These two pilot projects examined the factors necessary for full-scale program replication including time, cost, feasibility, and adaptations needed based on different populations and settings. The findings led to minor program updates and a well-developed coaching model, ensuring communities implementing the Core PATCH Package have the proper foundation and support to be successful.

In 2017, Hope Buffalo in Buffalo, New York became the first non-Wisconsin community to implement the Core PATCH Package.

Today, the Core PATCH Package is being implemented in multiple locations and is recognized by the Association of Maternal and Child Health as an Innovation Station Best Practice.

Based on evidence of need, impact, and lessons learned from the Core PATCH Package, additional PATCH resources, programs, and curricula have also been developed, including two complementary PATCH® Toolkits, numerous Community Resources, and generous Coaching/Consulting Services

The PATCH® Youth Advocacy Fellowship also launched in 2016. This initiative employs and empowers youth ages 12-21 from all corners of the state to be a part of adolescent health conversations at community and state levels, providing advice and input on goals and decisions that impact youth. This Fellowship model is recognized by the Association of Maternal and Child Health as an Innovation Station Promising Practice and is currently being packaged as a replicable approach to help others in the creation and maintenance of an effective statewide youth advisory board. 

PATCH® Staff are continuously learning and striving to apply the most advanced information and research to be a revolutionary leader in public health. We value integrity and actively assess program’s alignment with evidence, guidelines, standards, and emerging trends. We recognize, value, and celebrate the fact that youth change and thus, our programming and efforts need to adapt, too. Since inception, the PATCH® Program has intentionally changed its name, mission, structure, capacity and overall work to meet the ongoing demands of today’s youth. Our original Wisconsin-based PATCH® communities serve as our model while we explore ongoing adaptation, pilot new material and programs, and continually improve upon our current efforts.

We look forward to many more years of continuous growth and positive change.

Youth change and so do we! To stay in the loop, be sure to sign up for Peek@PATCH for seasonal updates on all our new adventures!