Listening To The Voice Of Our Patients And Families

At Stony Brook University Hospital, we are committed to partnering with patients, families and caregivers throughout their healthcare experience. One of the ways partnership occurs is through our recently launched Patient and Family Advisory Council (PFAC).

Patients and their families are often very knowledgeable members of the care team, and can offer unique perspectives and valuable feedback about the care they receive. The PFAC brings together a group of strongly motivated patients, family members and other caregivers, as well as administrators, clinicians, and staff, to apply firsthand knowledge to improving the experiences of other patients and caregivers.

The goal is to utilize a formal mechanism for involving patients, family and staff as partners to participate in policy development and program decision making so that their voice is represented as part of our hospital community. The PFAC is meant not only to enhance patient care, but to align with our organization’s broader goals and vision. Partnering with patient and families in how we design and deliver care is essential to improving the patient and family experience.

Our first Patient and Family Advisory Council Meeting was held on Aug. 26. At the monthly meetings, we will be asking patient and family advisors to help us identify what our hospital is doing well and also help pinpoint areas for improvement. Although no special qualifications or expertise is necessary to be a patient or family advisor, we recruited members who demonstrate a passion for improving healthcare for others, who are willing to volunteer their time to talk about their experiences, and who can effectively share insights and information about their hospital stays. The long-term role of the patient and family advisors is to identify opportunities for improving the patient and family experience, advise on policies and practices to support patient and family engagement, and recommend how to better measure, quantify and evaluate patient and family engagement.

Efforts are currently underway to identify specific projects/programs for patient advisors to share feedback on. Specific roles of council members may include serving as a sounding board for new initiatives; generating ideas; sharing best practices; planning and evaluating programs; and providing input on institutional policies, programs, and practices. Ultimately, we hope to eventually incorporate advisors as members of our quality and safety committees.

As anyone who has experienced an illness knows, the clinical and patient experiences are very different which is why both perspectives are needed. The Patient and Family Advisory Council will enable us to listen to, and honor patient and family perspectives and choices with the goal of incorporating their knowledge, values, beliefs and cultural backgrounds into the planning and delivery of our care.

I am grateful to the members of the committee for volunteering their time and look forward to working with them to improve the experience of care for our patients and their families.


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