As part of CommunityHealth’s commitment to patient-centered care, we formed a Patient Advisory Council last year to hear directly from the communities we are serving. Though we have long conducted annual patient satisfaction surveys, we needed to create a platform for patient voices to be heard in a more active, ongoing way.
The CommunityHealth Patient Advisory Council met for the first time in April 2021. In addition to health education staff members Rocio and Zeneida, who lead each Council meeting, the Council currently consists of six patients, all of whom are routinely seen by volunteer physicians at CommunityHealth for both primary and specialty care. Because we recognize the importance of hearing from a variety of perspectives, we aim to maintain representation on the council from varying ages, genders, and preferred languages – as well as both long-standing and newer patients. Rocio explains, “We strive to have patients who have experienced different aspects of care provided at CommunityHealth. We don’t only want to focus on one set of people’s concerns, as opposed to a different group.”
Council members serve for one year, meeting once every quarter for a 90-minute meeting at our West Town location, the Lederman Family Health Center. In preparation for each meeting, staff members and volunteers have the opportunity to submit questions or topics to be discussed. These meetings are open to anyone with a vested interest in CommunityHealth.
As the Patient Advisory Council continues its inaugural year, there is still much to be solidified in the process for proposing and measuring the changes and improvements that emerge from council meetings. “We still have a lot to learn on how to best run a council,” says Rocio, “and how to make sure that staff and volunteers are hearing the patient voice.”
So far, the most tangible effects of the Council’s influence can be seen in the waiting area, where printed information has been streamlined and reorganized into a flyer display structure near the entrance added by the Council. They also suggested our new Refer-a-Friend Campaign, which just launched this month. This campaign gives patients an opportunity to recommend CommunityHealth to anyone they know in need of health care. When new patients register with a current patient’s referral card, the person who referred them will be entered in a raffle. We hope that this incentive program will successfully broaden our patient community.
“There are many other things we want to improve on!” says Rocio. “We are very interested in opinions and suggestions our patients have to offer.” If you are interested in joining the Patient Advisory Council, please contact Rocio at 773.969.5919 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. We also invite volunteers who’d like to bring up a specific topic of discussion to get in touch with Rocio.