Through meaningful partnerships, patients and their families can help providers shape policies, programs, facility design and care delivery in ways that can lead to better outcomes, along with increased efficiency and satisfaction.
Last year, MD Anderson launched its first institutional patient and family advisory council, giving patients and families the opportunity to share their stories, review its process and offer creative solutions to some of the biggest challenges. Made up of more than 25 patients and family members, the advisers help identify ways to improve the patient experience.
“We need input from patients and caregivers to fix systems that aren’t reliable and to set higher standards for care delivery,” says Barbara Summers, Ph.D., vice president and chief nursing officer. “By giving them a voice, we can identify what matters the most to them.”
A decade ago, the Institute of Medicine named patient-centered care as one of six major health care industry goals for the 21st century. And while different care delivery models have emerged, involving patients and families at the institutional level and in point-of-care decision making is one of the most fundamental aspects of the shift to patient-centered care.
“To be patient-centered, we must put the patient at the center of everything we do,” says Kay Swint, director of Patient Experience, Nursing. “This requires a change from the mindset of doing things to and for patients to doing things with them.”
The council focuses on identifying global issues that impact patients across the continuum of care. They’ve provided their perspective on how to improve institutional communications, wayfinding and health education. They’ve even weighed in on the institution’s strategic plan.
“Every time we meet, we learn something new,” says Swint. “Their involvement gives us an extraordinary perspective into what our patients experience and the small things we can do to greatly improve that experience.”