A new resource from the American Hospital Association is available to help guide healthcare facilities as they work to improve their engagement of patients and their family caregivers. It builds upon the work of the AHRQ and creates a framework that focuses on improving quality and safety.
When I recently spoke about my experience with Patient and Family Advisory Councils, I was challenged with comments to minimize the value of these groups because the gentlemen's experience was these groups were only focused on things like picking out paint colors and parking. Some councils probably have spent a little too much time on things like paint color in waiting rooms or promoting valet parking; perhaps because of a narrow focus when they were chartered or because they really didn't have the support of leadership.
What I do know, is that patient engagement initiatives and bringing patients into advisory roles will be viewed as much more legitimate when the purpose is to focus on what is really important - safe and high quality healthcare. At some point, these advisors may contribute to paint color and decisions of whether valet parking is needed, but they will do so with a focus on how these things impact patient care. For example, will certain colors make it easier for patients to see more clearly or navigate through the facility and given facility limitations, is valet parking safer for handicap, elderly and other mobility limited patient populations.
For those who are considering adding patient advisors to their teams, keep the focus on what is important and have a plan that truly leverages the potential contributions of these patients and their families. If you need some help getting started, or reworking your current initiative take advantage of the tools already available to assist.