Patient and Family Advisory Councils, or PFACs, are changing the way we experience care at our local hospitals, and also at some outpatient care centers. PFACs allow patients and family members to represent the consumer voice in health care, operating as a crucial link between patients and hospital administration, providing suggestions on making the patient experience more comfortable and less confusing. All acute-care and rehabilitation hospitals in Massachusetts have been required to have PFACs in place since October of 2010.
On May 17th, Health Care For All brought together representatives from PFACs across the state to share their successes and challenges. Over 170 registrants from more than 40 PFACs signed up for the Westborough conference, gathering all day on a Friday to attend workshops and network with one another. Some members came to the conference eager to share their accomplishments, talking at length about, for example, their PFAC’s effort to reduce noise in the hospital at night. Other members used the conference as a opportunity to learn from the experience of others, asking other attendees about (among other things) their efforts to increase diversity in their PFACs.
The conference opened with a fascinating keynote speech from Dr. John Wasson, a passionate health care advocate and the former dean of Dartmouth Medical School. Dr. Wasson urged those in attendance to buck the status quo and create a culture of change, one that utilizes the voices of patients and family members in day-to-day hospital operations. Through this, Dr. Wasson suggested, PFACs could increase patient health confidence and grant patients faith that they could take control of their health. The conference attendees responded enthusiastically and many of them were excited to also attend Dr. Wasson’s two workshop sessions.
Other workshops focused on a variety of topics, from the basics of PFAC management and how to effectively partner with the hospital to PFAC involvement in the more specialized areas of care transitions and emergency departments. In each of these workshops, HCFA tapped members of especially innovative or ambitious PFACs to serve as workshop facilitators and presenters, allowing other PFACs to take away new ideas or share their own alternate approaches. Members left these workshops inspired and excited to start making change.
Sixteen hospitals also brought posters describing some of their accomplishments. The posters were displayed outside the conference rooms throughout the day and gave a sense of the wide variety of projects that PFACs are working on across the Commonwealth.
At the end of the conference, HCFA reaffirmed its commitment to helping PFACs succeed. A list of resources for PFACs can be found here. Continue checking this webpage because we will be encouraging PFACs to send resources to us that we can post for broader sharing. The webpage also includes a link to HCFA’s summary of annual PFAC reports, which details trends and achievements reported by PFACs in 2012.
The first PFAC conference proved a great success, and as enthusiasm and passion among PFAC members continues to build, next year’s conference promises to be even bigger and better! Thank you to everyone who played a part in making this year’s conference so successful.