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The impact of patient advisory councils on quality of care


A recent commentary published in The Permanente Journal by coauthors Ramin Davidoff, MD, Kerry Litman, MD, CPPS, and Barbara Lewis, MBA, discusses how patients play a vital role in shaping health care quality. The article, “Nothing About Patients Without Patients: More Than Just a Catchphrase!” reflects on the authors’ observations and experience with patient advisory councils within the Kaiser Permanente Southern California integrated care system.

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A patient advisory council is a representative group of patients who meet regularly with clinicians to share their perspective and feedback on clinical operations. Their input on tools, communications, and workflows can lead to patient-centered care improvements. Adding patients to the health care team, the authors say, provides clinicians with an “outside eye” that helps focus work on what matters most to patients.

Some of the concrete ways that patient advisory councils in Kaiser Permanente Southern California enabled real-world care improvements include:

  • Redesigned appointment reminder cards with messaging that helps patients better prepare for their upcoming medical appointments resulting in improved patient satisfaction and communication with physicians
  • Modification of direct-to-patient texting programs for surgical and emergency department patients, substantially improving the effectiveness of the outreach
  • Creation of a caller ID system that identified important calls from Kaiser Permanente, improving appointment scheduling and reducing patient frustration

“Partnering with patients to improve care individually, on health care teams, and via [patient advisory councils] makes our health care, and caring, better,” the authors write.

The commentary sheds light on the value of including patients when seeking to understand the patient experience and improve care. The authors also emphasize the importance of executive sponsorship of patient-centered and family-centered care, stating that leadership is necessary to create impact. Dr. Davidoff, who is co-CEO of The Permanente Federation and executive medical director and chair of the board of the Southern California Permanente Medical Group, together with his regional health plan counterpart, meets regularly with the regional patient advisory council to discuss ways to understand and improve upon patient perspectives and satisfaction — two important aspects of quality care.

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The authors conclude that the patient voice is key to delivering cost-effective, high-quality, patient-centered care. They offer a call to action for all health care leaders to move forward with patients by their sides.

Read the full commentary, which is Online First now for The Permanente Journal.

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