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Engaging with Patients and Families by Creating a Virtual Advisory Council
What was the challenge, opportunity or issue faced?
Nemours, a children’s health system, is committed to providing patient- and family-centered care, including collaborating with children and families to find improvement opportunities across the continuum of care. Family engagement happens in a variety of ways, including family advisory councils, youth advisory councils, participating on hospital committees, interviewing potential key senior leaders as part of the hiring process, teaching staff about what it is like to have a sick child and attending week-long process improvement workshops. The issue is that the majority of these activities take place at a hospital and during working hours on Monday through Friday. There are many family members who are willing to contribute their feedback but just cannot participate during these hours. We needed to figure out how to bring Nemours’ improvement opportunities to the families, not vice-versa.
What did you do to address it?
Nemours harnessed the growing power of social media to reach these families by creating the Nemours Virtual Advisory Council (NVAC). The NVAC is an online community consisting of families who experienced Nemours and are willing to help. Run on Yammer.com, the NVAC allows Nemours to post very specific questions regarding policies, procedures, environment of care or anything else that needs family feedback. Family members respond with their thoughts and the feedback is then presented to senior management for action. Whereas physical family advisory councils meet once per month, the Virtual Advisory Council provides Nemours feedback almost in real time from many more families with diverse viewpoints.
What were the outcomes?
Still in its infancy, the Nemours Virtual Advisory Council has already provided actionable feedback to senior management and has influenced continuous process improvement workshops. The quality of information gathered from these families is invaluable and because of the very specific nature of the questions, not obtainable through traditional patient satisfaction surveying. As an example, we asked the NVAC a question about how they preferred to be contacted for appointment reminders. Their feedback allowed us to realize that our current practice needed to be changed. We are in the process of making those changes. The NVAC removes many barriers in engaging families as partners in system design and on preferences for how care is provided, and allows Nemours to continue advancing its journey in patient- and family-centered care.
Nemours is an internationally recognized children’s health system that owns and operates the Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Delaware and the Nemours Children’s Hospital in Orlando, Florida along with major pediatric specialty clinics in Delaware, Florida, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
Established as The Nemours Foundation through the legacy and philanthropy of Alfred I. du Pont, Nemours offers pediatric clinical care, research, education, advocacy and prevention programs to all families in the communities it serves.