To ensure patient- and family-centered care, the UF Health Cancer Center relies on the input of its Patient and Family Advisory Council, a volunteer group of individuals whose lives have all been touched by cancer. Partnering with physicians and staff, the council helps improve the patient experience at UF Health by providing feedback in a number of key areas.
UF Health has two active Patient and Family Advisory Councils. One focuses on pediatric care, while the other evaluates cancer care services. A third group, which is being formed, will give input on adult emergency care and non-cancer adult inpatient care.
Over the last few years, council members have participated in a variety of improvement activities across UF Health. They provide a unique perspective to challenges and help faculty and staff understand processes, services and care from patient and family viewpoints.
“These patients and family members are intimately familiar with our processes and have valuable knowledge about our health system,” said Christine Cassisi, UF Health Sebastian Ferrero Office of Clinical Quality and Patient Safety patient experience director. “They have great insight into what we do well — delivering top-notch care— and where we fall short.”
During advisory council meetings, faculty and staff ask the groups about everything from discharge instructions to interior design upgrades. The cancer care services team takes a different approach to improving processes. The group is combing through the entire experience of being a UF Health Shands Cancer Hospital patient, from his or her first contact with the system through outpatient, emergency and inpatient care.
In addition to the councils, several advisers are embedded in process-improvement teams across the organization. A multidisciplinary group, which includes radiation oncology and hematology/oncology staff, faculty and leaders along with other staff and patient advisers, has tackled large and small projects.
For example, based on the team’s suggestions, the joint waiting room in the UF Health Medical Oncology — Davis Cancer Pavilion and the UF Health Infusion Center — Medical Plaza was improved to make it more welcoming and comfortable for patients. Renovations included additional seating, making the space brighter and improving the visibility of check-in desks.
“As we continue to involve patients and families in our quality and patient safety initiatives and process improvements, we will accelerate the advances we are making,” Cassisi said. “We’re ensuring from the outset that the solution we envision really addresses the problem from the patient’s perspective.”