Hospitals turn to patient councils for care improvements

Spectrum Health has given the patient family advisory council a facelift, turning its council members into consultants for 10 large service lines, Hospitals & Health Networks Daily reported.

The Michigan health system found that successful patient councils must have clear hospital expectations, vetted leaders and fresh membership. "I've seen places that have had the same advisers in place for a decade, and so their experiences are sort of old," Kris White, president of Spectrum Health Innovations, told H&HN Daily.

By helping to develop strategies that increase efficiency and safety, the patient councils are tied to quality and cost improvements, White noted.

Patient family advisory councils also are key to a successful patient-centered care model, Michele Lloyd, vice president for Children's Services at NYU Langone Medical Center told FierceHealthcare last month. Lloyd encouraged using such councils to get patient input on every strategic issue, including constructing a new building or improving central-line catheter use.

She also took the patient family advisory council a step further, recommending hospitals recruit actual patients and family members as faculty to teach hospital staff at every new employee orientation and new orientation for residents and fellows.

Lloyd and White and their organizations are on the right track, given research published last month in the Journal of Clinical Oncology that found the patient perspective is vital to evaluating the effectiveness, benefits and harms of various cancer treatments.

Recognizing the benefit of patient input to cancer care, Ministry Saint Michael's Hospital in Wisconsin recently formed a patient advisory council to help its patient navigators know what breast cancer patients really need, the Wausau Daily Herald reported.

"We brought together a group of women who had all dealt with breast cancer in some way, and we told them, 'We want to know what you want. We don't want to guess,'" Joanne Madigan, the hospital's clinical quality specialist and head of the breast care center, told the Daily Herald.

Thanks to the patient advisory council, navigators now understand that women want to know all the options available for their loved ones, not only for themselves, the article noted.

For more:
- here's the H&HN Daily article
- read the FierceHealthcare interview
- check out the Wausau Daily Herald article

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