Hospital Spotlight: Karmanos Cancer Hospital Uses Patient and Family Advisory Council to Improve Care

Posted on July 13, 2017

The Michigan Health & Hospital Association (MHA) Keystone Center has long been committed to helping advance person- and family-centered care (PFCC) in Michigan. Under the Great Lakes Partners for Patients (GLPP) Hospital Improvement Innovation Network (HIIN), the focus has been helping hospitals establish patient and family advisory councils (PFAC) and/or partnering with patient/family advisors on patient safety or quality improvement committees or teams (PFE Metric 4).

PFACs in hospitals provide a unique opportunity to gain better understanding of patient and family experiences, while ensuring the voice of the patient is part of all projects and decision making. The partnership increases quality of care delivered in the hospital, improves patient and family experiences, and is an essential step in building and maintaining a truly person- and family-centered culture.

The Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Hospital, a participating HIIN hospital, is part of the Karmanos Cancer Institute, the largest cancer research and provider network in Michigan, with 14 treatment locations statewide. The first PFAC at Karmanos was established in 1998, and was one of the country’s first hospital-based advocacy groups for cancer patients and their families. Valerie Fred, MSA, operations support specialist, co-founded the PFAC, and has facilitated it since its inception.

For nearly two decades, the PFAC at Karmanos has integrated and engaged patients and their families as well as staff at various levels – from chief executive officers and chief nursing officers to chaplains to caretakers – to focus wholeheartedly on the care experience for patients, survivors and their extended families.

The PFAC meets on the first Tuesday of every month for two-and-a-half hours, wherein members provide guidance as well as give feedback and insight about their personal experiences within the hospital – from valet to dietary options – to provide both the patient and family perspective.

“The meetings provide relevant feedback from our patients, so we can make it better for the next patient. It also allows staff to understand the patient and family perspective,” said Nanci Burrows, RN, director of patient and colleague engagement, Karmanos. “We are very fortunate we have such a dedicated group of people serving on this council and truly grateful for their valuable input.”

The Karmanos Cancer Hospital president attends every PFAC meeting and provides an update on organizational goals and strategies. In addition, the PFAC also shares the issues and items discussed with other Karmanos leadership to raise awareness and strengthen communication.

“Our PFAC members share constructive ways on how to improve processes as well as provide feedback on how to do things differently,” said Burrows. “They also serve as our advocates in the community.”

The Karmanos PFAC is comprised of 12-16 members representing all ages, ethnicities, and racial, cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds as well as various cancer types at any given time. Each member serves a two-year term but is free to serve a shorter or longer term, depending on personal circumstances.

”We are committed to having a diverse council that truly reflects the patient population we serve at Karmanos Cancer Hospital,” said Fred.

This article was featured in the new MHA Keystone Center Newsletter. To subscribe or to share a success story with other MHA members, please contact Ashley Sandborn, MHA Keystone Center communications specialist.

Tags: MHA Keystone Center, Patient Safety and Quality, HIIN, PFAC, person- and family-centered care

Posted in: Patient Safety & Quality

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