In these times of social distancing, it’s even more important to keep patient relationships close. Our monthly group meetings for our Patient and Family Advisory Council have been postponed to avoid face-to-face contact but opportunities for input and improvement continue to be important in providing quality care.
An electronic platform, consisting of email and text, provides an avenue for immediate feedback and suggestions. Here are three ways to utilize your PFAC remotely:
1. Evaluate clinic communication
Is your clinic meeting the needs of your patients in communicating critical policies, protocols and recommendations during this crisis? Patients are your audience; involve them in reviewing momentous correspondence.
Health literacy in our office is low, so we look for ways to reduce the reading level, include more pictures and icons, and decrease the amount of text. Our patients help us identify words that are confusing, recognize acronyms that are problematic, and determine what information is meaningful to them.
2. Educate your patients and families…and your community
The news can be overwhelming. Some are skeptical, questioning the severity of the situation. Providing accurate information in small doses with a quick email or text will go a long way.
Patients trust their doctors. They look to you for guidance. Reaching out with developing information arms patients with knowledge and power. We don’t live life in a bubble. This information will be shared and multiplied, helping not only your patients and their families but your community as well.
3. Share resources with advisors
In unsettling times when we hear so often what we shouldn’t be doing, it’s important to communicate what can be done. Knowing ways to help others is empowering and provides hope and a sense of community when isolation is encouraged.
Two of our physicians created a community resource guide specific to our city. This guide contains resources for medication, housing, unemployment, food, childcare, exercise, and education during school closures. The last section highlights ways each of us can help during this crisis. Sharing this resource with our advisors was beneficial, but the exponential ripple of distribution to their social circles and communities was powerful. They are ambassadors, helping to spread vital information in this time of need.
In the midst of COVID-19, let’s continue to partner with our patient and family advisors to help provide quality care for all.
Keesha Goodnow is completing her fourth year as the coordinator and co-facilitator of the Patient and Family Advisory Council at The Christ Hospital. She assisted with the expansion of this model to a Federally Qualified Health Center at three of their sites, mentoring physician champions in the maintenance and sustainability of their councils. She is also program manager for the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Department of Family and Community Medicine, supporting faculty physicians as they equip family medicine residents and geriatric fellows to lead and inspire healthcare transformation in their future practices.