At City of Hope, patients are partners in transforming care

May 12, 2015 | by Luciana Starks

When you want to understand how to enhance the patient experience, go straight to the source: The patients.

Since its establishment in 2008, City of Hope’s Patient and Family Advisory Council has helped improve the experience of patients and their families throughout the institution. El Concilio, the Spanish-speaking advisory council, has similarly helped improve services for Hispanic patients and caregivers. Zelia de Sousa, council chair (shown above) Since its establishment in 2008, City of Hope’s Patient and Family Advisory Council has helped improve the experience of patients and their families throughout the institution.  Zelia de Sousa, council chair (shown above)

Patients and their families offer unique perspectives on care and services and can provide valuable insights about what is working well and what is not. That’s why City of Hope turns to them for advice.

Since its establishment in 2008, City of Hope’s Patient and Family Advisory Council has helped improve the experience of patients and their families throughout the institution. El Concilio, the Spanish-speaking advisory council, has similarly helped improve services for Hispanic patients and caregivers.

In the last six months, the Advisory Council has partnered with the director of security to add parking spaces and way-finding signage to the main campus in Duarte, California; collaborated with Volunteer Services to increase volunteer support and snacks in patient infusion areas; and advocated for expanded after-hour food options for families accompanying patients for treatment. El Concilio created maps for Spanish-speaking patients and their families and were integral in the development of City of Hope’s Spanish website.

“By partnering with patients and families on projects — and incorporating their perspectives in planning and decision-making — we advance patient and family-centered care,” said Annette Mercurio, M.P.H., M.C.H.E.S., director of programs for the Department of Supportive Care Medicine.

The council is sponsored by the Sheri & Les Biller Patient and Family Resource Center and the Department of Supportive Care Medicine and is composed of 22 City of Hope patients or family caregivers, and three City of Hope staff members.

Council members’ unique experiences and insights provide a rich complement to the traditional perspective of doctors, nurses and other health care providers.

The role of the Advisory Council, which meets on a monthly basis, is to:

  • Provide feedback based on personal experiences.
  • Identify patient and family needs and concerns.
  • Build upon personal insights and generate new ideas to improve the standard of care.
  • Act as catalysts and advocates to integrate patient-centered care and services across the institution.
The council’s accomplishments to date include:
  • Development of programs and information: The council helped develop the Patient and Family Orientation Class and the Chemotherapy Class, and its feedback led to the creation of numerous patient and family education materials, such as the patient care guides now provided to all inpatients and outpatients.
  • Process improvement: Member experiences helped shape the redesign of the ambulatory care environment, helped streamline the patient registration process, reduced infusion wait times and improved the efficiency of specimen transport.
  • Facilities feedback: The council participated in the redesign of ambulatory surgery clinics, emphasizing the perspective of those actually undergoing treatment.
The council is so adept at improving the hospital experience of current, and future, patients that it has been presented as a best practice model at regional, national and international conferences of health care leaders.

Mercurio said City of Hope’s patient and family advisory councils demonstrate the power of engaging patients and families as partners in everything that touches them — from care redesign and program planning to policy development and enhancing the overall care experience.

For more information on the Patient and Family Advisory Council at City of Hope, contact the council coordinator, Becky Andrews at [email protected]

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Learn more about becoming a patient or getting a second opinion by visiting our website or by calling 800-826-HOPE (4673). You may also request a new patient appointment online. City of Hope staff will explain what's required for a consult at City of Hope and help you determine, before you come in, whether or not your insurance will pay for the appointment.

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