It’s difficult to commit to a patient-centered care approach without input from patients. Although surveys are helpful, they’re no substitute for conversations with people who’ve been patients in your hospital. If you want to make sure you’re providing the services your patients truly need and want, the best course of action is to create a patient advisory board.
We’ll take a look at the many benefits of developing a patient advisory board, and how you can get started.
What Is a Patient Advisory Board?
Advisory boards are usually composed of current and former patients, family members of patients, hospital staff, hospital management and people from the community. Members meet to discuss aspects of the patient experience. During meetings, there is an open exchange of ideas about ways to facilitate and improve patient-centered care practices.
There are several benefits hospitals can enjoy by creating a patient advisory board. For example, it provides a forum in which healthcare providers and patients can share experiences and opinions freely and work toward a common goal.
Here are a few additional benefits your organization can expect:
4 Benefits of Patient Advisory Boards
An active patient advisory board can help your hospital thrive in four primary ways.
- Improved HCAHPS scores: Input from your advisory board can help staff and management make and implement changes that increase patient satisfaction. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality noted that when the Georgia Health Sciences Medical Center implemented patient and family engagement strategies on a particular unit, patient satisfaction scores increased from the 10th to the 95th percentile.
- Decreased expenses and better net revenue: Listening to patient concerns and making patient-centered care a priority can improve your bottom line and decrease malpractice suits.
- Better outcomes: Patient advisory board discussions are often the impetus behind new patient engagement strategies that can have a positive impact on outcomes, including better pain control and blood pressure levels and few readmissions.
- Improved employee satisfaction: Establishing a patient advisory board demonstrates your hospital’s commitment to change and growth. Not only are patients more likely to be engaged, employees are, too.
Before you start looking for patients to serve on the board, you’ll need to create a set of qualifications for patient advisory board members, such as the willingness to share experiences and respect others’ opinions, good listening skills and the ability to get along with people from a variety of backgrounds. Finding patients to serve on the advisory board can be accomplished using several methods, including:
- Emails to your staff and physicians asking for suggestions
- Fliers and brochures
- Ads on your website and social media pages
- Articles in your hospital newsletter
Once you’ve created a list of interested current and former patients, you can schedule an information session. During the session, explain the role of the patient advisory member and discuss expectations and policies. For example, you may want to mention that although you’re interested in hearing about a patient’s experiences at your hospital, advisory board meetings are not the forum to discuss personal health concerns or receive medical advice.
If your recruitment effort is successful, you may have more interest in the board than spots to fill. In this case, you’ll need to choose prospective members based on the length of their relationship with your hospital or any special insights they offer. If you must reject some applicants, you may want to ask them to become members of an online advisory board. Contact online board members throughout the year when you need input from a larger group of patients.
A patient advisory board is a useful tool that can help you achieve your patient satisfaction goals and increase your HCAPHS scores. If you’re thinking of starting a board, take a look at the manuals offered by the Colorado Hospital Association and the Patient and Family Advisory Council. These organizations offer step-by-step instructions that will help you create an active, effective board.
Starting a patient advisory board is just one of the many ways your hospital can work toward a more patient-focused environment. Learn more great tips in our free eBook, How Nurses Can Increase Satisfaction through Patient-Centered Care.