Many Hospitals Establish Patient Advisory Councils

Armen Hareyan's picture
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The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday examined how manyhospitals have begun "striking far-reaching new partnerships withpatients and their families, creating advisory councils whose membershelp plan new facilities, set hiring standards and interview jobcandidates," as well as participate in the design of clinical trials,review equipment and medication safety procedures, and help trainmedical residents. According to the Journal, advisorycouncils provide "patients an increasingly powerful voice at a timewhen hospitals are scrambling to increase customer satisfaction, betterrespond to complaints and avoid costly malpractice litigation."

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Hospitalsalso have a "strong financial incentive to bring patients and familiesinto the equation," as Medicare later this year will begin to requirethem to "publish customer satisfaction data on the Medicare Web site toreceive full reimbursement for their services," the Journal reports. Advisory councils at hospitals nationwide have partnered with Press Ganey to develop five survey questions to measure concern for patient and family issues.

In addition, the Institute for Family-Centered Care,which has partnered with hundreds of hospitals in the U.S. and Europeto establish patient advisory councils, hosts an online forum for suchcouncils and provides guidelines for patients who seek to establishthem.

Patient advisory council members volunteer their time --with "nominal perks such as free parking, travel reimbursement orlunches during meetings" -- and often have diverse ethnic, racial andoccupational backgrounds, the Journal reports. Patientadvisory councils might meet monthly or quarterly, but members in manycases must serve on committees that meet more often to work on specialprojects or participate in retreats with hospital staff (Landro, Wall Street Journal, 8/8).
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