Why is Patient and Family Engagement Important?
Today patient and family engagement is being aptly described as the blockbuster drug of the 21st Century. When hospitals, clinics or other healthcare delivery facilities reach out and tap the experience and wisdom of their users of care, we always find people eager to help their trusted providers deliver the best possible care. Patients and families see gaps in processes and opportunities for improvement that others miss, making them a high value, low cost, and still under-utilized “natural resource.” Those who have experienced a medical error or other system failures are often the most the most willing to learn and help, especially in addressing issues of safety and quality. When engaged, patients and families also bring a high level of empathy and compassion to their interactions with providers, quickly able to identify with the feelings and stressors that healthcare workers experience.
Why Add Patient and Family Advisory Councils for Quality & Safety?
Patient and family advisory councils are a mechanism for embedding regular input and feedback into improvement work from the communities we serve. They advance community trust building and our national goal to ensure that care is truly patient centered. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and other payors are now driving patient and family engagement through advisory councils as a strategy to improve outcomes, reduce cost, promote transparency and reinforce the joy and meaningfulness of healthcare work.
In 2011, MedStar Health made the commitment to establish a system-wide infrastructure of Patient and Family Advisory Councils for Quality and Safety® (PFACQS®), striving to make all care safer and of the highest quality at the system leadership level and across all ten MedStar hospitals and its ambulatory care environment. With H2Pi — the Healthcare Patient Partnership Institute – as its consultant, MedStar Health fully implemented this plan in 18 months, although work in ambulatory care settings continues to expand and evolve. The MedStar and H2Pi approach to establishing PFACQS is a partnership model that engages frontline providers as council members, nurturing a shared commitment to safety for all, patients and staff alike. Features of the PFACQS model include:
- Focus on safety and quality
- Partnership modeling through PFACQS membership that includes patients, family members and healthcare staff
- Co-leadership and co-production of solutions
- Reporting relationship directly to Senior Management and Governance
- Shared mental model of approaches to continuous improvement work
- Improve quality and safety.
- Improve financial performance.
- Improve CAHPS® Hospital Survey scores.
- Improve patient outcomes.
- Enhance market share and competitiveness.
- Increase employee satisfaction and retention.
- Respond to Joint Commission standards.
- Becoming more aware of the patient’s perspective.
- Learning to provide care from a patient-centered approach.
- Recognizing the role of other caregivers, such as family and friends.
- Appreciating barriers – and opportunities -for patients that were previously not understood.
- Identifying system issues that need to be addressed to provide patient- centered care.
- Receiving higher satisfaction ratings by their patients as they collaborate in a patient-centered care model.
- Becoming more aware and better educated on the subject of reception of healthcare.
- Gaining a better understanding of the healthcare system, including their organization.
- Appreciating being part of the program, listened to, and having their opinions valued.
- Becoming advocates for their organization.
- Understanding how to be an active participant in their own health care.
- Learning to be advocates for their family and friends.
- Recognizing that collaboration with their providers through patient- centered care leads to better self-management of chronic conditions and improved adherence to medication regimens.
Listen to Marty Hatlie, Director of MIQS, and Armando Nahum, Director of the Center for Engaging Patients as Partners at MIQS, talk about the value of engaging patients and families in the business of healthcare. Patient Safety leader, David Mayer MD, weighs in on how important it is to have patient and family member advisors in the work he does every day at MedStar Health.
What Others Are Saying
I think what Dave (Mayer) is trying to implement, is not only having patients and families involved in these Councils, to make these changes and build a true culture of safety, but the hospitals are being transparent with families and that is creating an openness, a dialogue that never existed before. Five, six years ago when I lost my son, they wouldn’t sit at a table with me. Today they are, and maybe three to five years from now, one of us will be on their Board. How great is that? That’s true transparency!
I became involved in this after the death of my son. Families get involved because they do assume the medical system is benign and has good intentions and wants to improve. It's really critical to work with families and show results because that's been the big problem with the patient safety movement is that we have not shown results over the years . The medical community owes this to families--to show improvement, to show results.