Patient Experience

How a patient and family advisory council (PFAC) improves patient experience

SONIFI Health By SONIFI Health
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October 9, 2018

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Patient engagement and patient experience are two different principles that are intricately intertwined. Engagement encompasses empowering an individual patient to actively participate in their own healthcare to improve overall health and outcomes. This role may also be conducted by patient family members or caregivers. Patient experience is the feeling that patients and their caregivers have when they interact with healthcare.

Patient engagement requires active participation. The care team and/or health system provide information and technology resources to patients to encourage their involvement in understanding their health and making health care decisions.

Patient experience is traditionally considered more passive. However, with the implications of reimbursement or leadership and policy choices, experience is becoming much more active. Improving the experience is no longer centered on amenities or service, but rather on true understanding of the nature of the healthcare encounter.1

Feedback from Beryl Institute’s research with surveying patients on patient experience ranked (1) listening to me and (2) clearly explaining the treatment plan as 2 of the top 10 components to a positive experience.1 How can healthcare facilities and staff improve their ability to listen to patients and communicate effectively?

One solution is to form a patient and family advisory council (PFAC). A patient and family advisory council partners patients and family members with the healthcare team to offer feedback and insight on how to improve the patient and family experience. The PFAC members are uniquely qualified to give input on issues that impact their healthcare. They have firsthand, actual experience with the facility.

Working with patients and families is a critical part of improving quality and safety to meet their needs rather than basing them on the assumptions of clinicians and other hospital staff. It is common to find resources committed and new initiatives rolled out by a well-meaning hospital staff in response to patient complaints or regulatory requirements. Utilizing the insight from the PFAC can help develop effective solutions that truly meet the patient and family needs and improve their experience.

  1. Wolf, J. A. (2018). Consumer Perspectives on Patient Experience 2018. The Beryl Institute. Retrieved August 28, 2018, from

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