Health care work systems have primarily been designed to be efficient for staff and providers. The problem with this is health care is delivered to the patient. Afterall, without the patient there is no need for health care.
Sometimes health care is slow to catch on but at GVMH we are providing an opportunity for our patients and their families to tell us how to design processes around them, not us.
On Friday, January 22, 2016 GVMH will host the first meeting of our newly formed Patient and Family Advisory Committee (PFAC). The committee is composed of former and prospective patients and family member’s of patients.
Committee members were nominated by GVMH staff and then nominees were contacted to determine interest. Once interest in serving on the committee was known, prospective committee members were asked to fill out a lengthy application. Following the application process a series of interviews occurred prior to the selection of the committee. The application and interview process were lengthy but necessary. If we are going to ask these volunteers to partner with us in major decisions that affect how we provide care and design services to be more patient centric, we have to be certain they’re fully aware of their responsiblity and prepared to commit the time.
I’m both excited and anxious about the potential for the committee. If you ask staff who report to me they will tell you the questions I ask them more than any other are “how will it affect the patient” and “are you creating a process to benefit you or are you creating a process to benefit the patient”. What I’ve found is we’re not always able to answer those questions. We believe we’re developing processes to benefit the patient but we’re not patients so we don’t always know. The PFAC will know and they will provide us the guidance we need to develop processes that benefit our patients and their families.
We tend to think we know best, after all, we’re the health care experts. Our patients are the experts of their expectations and we need to exceed their expectations. Providing the PFAC authority to guide us will seem a little unnatural at first and we will have to remind ourselves that they are the real experts. There’s a real chance that we may have to work harder to make things easier for our patients and our families but that’s OK because they are the reason we’re here.
Without the patient there’s no need for any of us and for all of us the reason we’ve chosen a career in health care is because of the patient. I’m excited to start working with the PFAC and I’m excited to begin developing services and processes with the right players at the table to tell us how.