With the implementation of CMS’ Comprehensive Primary Care Plus (CPC+) initiative, practices are required to convene a Patient and Family Advisory Council (PFAC) as part of patient and caregiver engagement. Many health systems are struggling to manage these groups successfully. Practices should ask themselves one question: Is your PFAC a checked box or a meaningful vehicle for collaboration with patients and families?
Previously, I wrote about the lessons I learned in launching a PFAC.
As we are wrapping up our third year at one practice and have successfully launched two additional PFACs at community partner sites, I have continued to gain a better understanding of strategies for successful sustainability.
Here are 5 ways to promote a PFAC that will prosper:
1. Less is not always more: More meetings mean more engaged advisors
The requirements for CPC+ are minimal concerning PFACs. According to current guidelines, PFACs must meet a minimum of one to four times each year.
The idea that having fewer meetings is easier does make sense; however, I would argue this is not the case. Our PFACs meet monthly throughout the year with a 3-month break in the summer. This cycle is critical to our success. If you only meet once or twice a year, it will be difficult to work as a team for meaningful change. Monthly meetings help build a sense of community and provide a safe environment for your advisors to give you honest feedback.
In addition, regular meetings build momentum. Our advisors know that every month we will meet on the same day at the same time (e.g., the second Wednesday of the month at 5:00 pm), so they can plan to be there. Each month, we quickly review highlights of the prior meeting and pick right up where we left off, increasing our efficiency and value as a group.
2. Double is no trouble: Recruit twice as many advisors as you want at your meetings.
Our average meeting attendance is roughly 50 percent of our membership. For our practices, the composition of our PFAC includes patients and family members, staff, resident physicians, and attending physicians. Our first year, we had a council membership of 20 advisors, but our average attendance was a group of 12, with four patient advisors on average. We have made an effort to recruit a broader base of patient and family advisors, so our meetings will be better attended, include ample patient voice, and encourage deeper discussion. In our third year, we have 25 advisors and an average of 14 attendees per meeting with a patient representation of eight. If you put in the work to recruit a larger council, it will pay dividends down the road.
3. Encourage buy-in, don’t settle for less: Leadership should be present at every meeting.
Strategic partnerships benefit ALL parties involved. Our partnership brings together key stakeholders to collaborate for meaningful change. If decision makers are present and engaged at each meeting, your practice can increase relevance and work to fill gaps identified by patients; physicians and staff members gain critical awareness of new perspectives of the care they provide; and patients and family members discover practice logistics, limitations, and areas of expertise.