Center for Engaging Patients as Partners | MedStar Institute for Quality and Safety | MedStar Health

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 Health 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 Health 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

Need help setting up your Patient & Family Advisory Council(s) for Quality &Safety?

MedStar Health consulted with to develop and roll out its PFACQS® infrastructure at each of the ten MedStar Health hospitals, MedStar Health physician groups, and at ambulatory care clinics as well. H2Pi principals also are active at MIQS and are prepared to offer PFACQS consulting using the systems PFACQS work of Victoria and Armando Nahum. The Nahums became advocates for patient and family engagement after their family experienced three medical errors in the same year, culminating in the death of their 27-year-old son, Josh, to a hospital-acquired infection.

MIQS partners with to provide PFACQS consulting to other provider organizations in establishing their own PFACQS focused on preventing harm and continuously advancing quality. The H2Pi Team has experience in developing patient and family engagement programs that:

  • Affect the safest delivery of care possible
  • Help realize better than expected medical outcomes
  • Help reduce risk and liability
  • Help reduce medical costs
  • Advance an authentic culture of safety and continuous learning

H2Pi’s unique “Road to Success” approach helps hospitals and healthcare systems strategize and prepare for implementation through a step-by-step pathway, developed through years of experience with hospitals and healthcare systems around the world. Based on proven experience and lessons learned, the PFACQS Consulting model, “Road to Success” is designed to be customized to the goals and situations of diverse organizations, facilities, communities and patient populations.

In committing to this work, your hospital or healthcare system can raise the bar by establishing a PFACQS infrastructure to advance and energize your improvement work and best serve the patients and families who rely on you for safe, high quality, and continuously improving care.

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