Patient Family & Community Engagement | Patient and Care Partners

Transforming Healthcare Together: The Power of Patient and Family Partnerships

In the realm of healthcare, the journey towards excellence is continuous, with the ultimate goal of enhancing the human experience. An important approach that is gaining momentum involves formal and intentional partnerships with patients, families, and care partners. This collaborative strategy is not just a concept but a transformative movement. The Beryl Institute strongly advocates for the adoption of and commitment to this strategy across health systems globally

The Beryl Institute has long recognized and valued the engagement of patients, families, and care partners—notably practicing what it preaches. The Global Patient and Family Advisory Board (GPFAB) was one of the Institute’s first boards, established in 2013 to embed the voices of patients and families formally in its work. Patient, Family, and Community Engagement remains one of the Institute’s eight strategic lenses and its Patient and Care Partner Community provides a wide range of related resources. Yet, there is a demand for more.

While patient and family advisors (PFAs) or advisory councils (PFACs) have a long history in some healthcare institutions, they are non-existent or in the early stages in other institutions and rebuilding in others. We have seen increased interest in PFAs and PFACs in recent years and suspect it relates to the parallel growth of attention to patient experience generally, challenges exacerbated by the pandemic, and a global awakening to issues related to race and diversity. Many institutions realize tackling their most critical challenges requires strong stakeholder engagement, including that of patients and families. To assess and respond to this demand, the Institute brought together a steering committee and hosted community conversations related to Establishing, Revitalizing, and Rebuilding PFAs and PFACs. As one component of this effort, the authors of this blog led the development of a PFA/PFAC value statement to inform the efforts of healthcare organizations addressing this issue around the world.

The community value statement, A Commitment to PFAs/PFACs in Improving the Human Experience in Healthcare, was spearheaded by the Patient Experience Policy Forum (PXPF) Patient, Family and Care Partner Policy Workgroup, as well as many others in The Beryl Institute community. It formalizes the value, impact, and recommendations for leaders around patient and family partnerships. The statement presents a clear call to action, opening with these words: The Beryl Institute community calls on health system leaders and organizations to commit to the industry standard of ensuring formal, intentional, and continuous partnerships with patients, families, and care partners. It also serves as a resource for healthcare institutions to build and nurture these partnerships as a critical component of a commitment to person-centered care and patient experience. This requires action beyond just checking a box and calls for intentional investment in active, integrated, and engaged programs and processes for ensuring patient voices are at the table real-time.

Through an evidence-based approach, this statement highlights the value patient and family partnerships bring through their unique lived experiences and insights, which are pivotal in shaping organizational activities, including strategic planning, space and program design, operations, quality and safety improvement, and policymaking. We hope this statement will support leaders in gaining organizational commitment and dedication or strengthen their existing work towards patient and family partnerships.

The movement towards patient and family partnerships in healthcare is a testament to the power of collaboration in driving meaningful change. By embracing the perspectives of those receiving care, healthcare organizations can improve the quality, safety, and experience of care and build a foundation of trust and respect essential for true healing and recovery. Our healthcare systems are grappling with mounting changes and challenges. Partnerships between those providing and receiving care are instrumental to help overcome them. As we move forward, let us remember that at the heart of healthcare is the human experience, and by working together, we can create a system that truly meets the needs of all.

Sheila Moroney, Board Member, Patient Experience Policy Forum

Courtney Nataraj, Board Member, Patient Experience Policy Forum

Claire Snyman, Strategic Advisory Board Member, The Beryl Institute

Aimee Williamson, Global Patient and Family Advisory Board Member, The Beryl Institute

Read the Value Statement