AHA: 5 ways to engage patients and families to improve quality, safety

Patient and family engagement as a strategy has become an integral part of many hospitals' and health systems' improvement efforts for quality, safety and patient outcomes, according to a recent AHA report.

In addition to involving patients in their own care, some healthcare organizations are taking the next step of engagement by systematically partnering with patients and family members and integrating them into improvement efforts by making them advisors.

Together, patients, families and healthcare providers can work to achieve the triple aim — better care, healthier populations and lower costs. To do so, hospitals should encourage patients and family members to get involved on advisory councils, hospital committees and collaborative quality- and safety-improving projects.

The AHA report outlines five steps to help hospitals partner with patient and families, highlighted below.

1. Recruit patient and family advisors who have knowledge of or experience with the topic the hospital is working to address.

2. Prepare the advisors by providing education and training on the basics of quality improvement and how to use the patients' or family members' personal experience to promote change.

3. Create a culture of engagement by explaining to patient and family advisors their roles and how they will contribute, modeling a culture of partnership and encouraging questions and feedback from the staff.

4. Include advisors in the implementation of improvement initiatives and projects facilitated by patient safety and quality committees and follow up by measuring the initiatives' impact.

5. Sustain the relationships with advisors by maintaining open channels of communication, updating the advisors on new project developments and sharing information and additional opportunities to participate in improvement projects.


To read the full AHA report, including best practices, click here.



More articles on patient engagement:
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IT roadmap update: Patient engagement soars while data exchange lags
How to prioritize patient-centeredness: Q&A with Planetree's Susan Frampton


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