Person and family engagement is an integral part of health care quality improvement and a priority for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and the Quality Improvement Organization (QIO) Program. Involving people in their own care decisions improves communication between patients/consumers and providers, helps providers deliver better care, and results in better patient outcomes. While the QIO Program is engaging Medicare beneficiaries at the national level through its Beneficiary and Family Advisory Councils, QIOs across the country are engaging beneficiaries and their families locally through their own Patient and Family Engagement Councils (PFACs).
Through its PFACs, HealthInsight—the Quality Innovation Network-Quality Improvement Organization (QIN-QIO) for Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon and Utah—is capturing the voice of patients, families and caregivers to better meet the needs of Medicare beneficiaries in each of the four states in its region.
In Utah, the PFAC has been instrumental in helping Health Insight broaden its quality improvement work in the areas of behavioral health and immunizations. Feedback and ideas from PFAC members have helped HealthInsight identify ways to meet community needs for behavioral health, and reach diverse rural, ethnic and minority groups in the state. HealthInsight also has learned it needs to do more outreach to engage older adults with disabilities, so they have a convenient way to access immunizations—a perspective the QIN-QIO may not otherwise have captured.
“Our PFAC has given us the voice and perspective we were missing,” says Joan Gallegos, community engagement director at HealthInsight Utah. “Suddenly we’ve started looking at our efforts in a way we hadn’t before.”
In New Mexico, the PFAC provides an opportunity for advisors to serve as ambassadors for HealthInsight’s quality improvement work, educating hundreds of people in places like community and senior centers, and with neighbors, friends and families. One PFAC advisor has presented at an Area Agency on Aging conference, explaining the importance of understanding antimicrobial stewardship and how people can reduce the risk of antimicrobial resistance by learning about antibiotics and asking their doctor why they are being prescribed.
“Our PFAC has given us the voice and perspective we were missing. Suddenly we’ve started looking at our efforts in a way we hadn’t before.”
With the help of HealthInsight’s PFAC in Nevada, 390 new patients have received diabetes self-management education. Initially, HealthInsight was struggling to recruit enough individuals to hold in-person classes at a community-based location. Based on input from the PFAC, HealthInsight began piloting multisite education sessions, so individuals interested in diabetes self-management education—but unable to travel—could participate locally.
In Oregon, HealthInsight’s PFAC has helped improve flu vaccination marketing to reach older adults more effectively. The flu can be dangerous for all age groups, but older adults are at an increased risk of complications. When asked how the QIN-QIO could motivate more older adults to get their flu vaccine, PFAC members suggested reminding them that the flu shot protects both them and their grandchildren. HealthInsight incorporated this message in marketing materials for physician offices, and printed posters on plain paper using large text—two additional suggestions made by the PFAC.
HealthInsight continues to see the impact of engaging patients and families in its work, and its efforts have not gone unnoticed. Recently, HealthInsight was nominated by a PFAC member and awarded the Patient Family Centered Care Partners’ Harry Orme, MD Partnership Award. Established in 2013, the award recognizes PFACs whose partnership has resulted in a culture and practice of patient-centered care.