Best Practices for a Successful Patient and Family Advisory Council (PFAC)

Ashley Worral
By Mallory Magelli McKeown, Customer Success Manager
July 31st

Discover the key strategies and best practices for establishing and maintaining a successful Patient and Family Advisory Council.

In this Blog: 

  • The Crucial Role of a PFAC in Patient Experience
  • Best Practices for a Successful PFAC
  • PFAC Member Recruitment
  • Key Performance Indicators for Advisory Councils  

Patient and Family Advisory Councils (PFACs) have increased in popularity since their inception in the 1980’s. PFACs started with parents advocating for services or needs at children’s hospitals. Since then, it has generally evolved to having a group of patients or their family members sit on a council or board to help give input from anything from enhancing the patient voice to quality initiatives.

The Crucial Role of a PFAC in Patient Experience

 A PFAC plays a crucial role in bridging the gap between patients, families, and healthcare providers. It serves as an avenue for patients and their families to voice their concerns, suggestions, and perspectives on healthcare delivery. By actively involving patients and their families in decision-making processes, healthcare organizations can gain invaluable insights and shape policies that address the needs and expectations of their patient population.

The PFAC also plays a crucial role in educating both patients and healthcare providers about the importance of patient engagement and effective communication. By raising awareness about the benefits of involving patients in their own care, the council empowers individuals to take an active role in their healthcare journey. This, in turn, leads to better health outcomes and increased patient satisfaction.

Moreover, the PFAC strengthens patient-provider relationships. By actively involving patients and their families, healthcare organizations can build trust and rapport, creating a partnership in care. This collaborative approach ensures that patients feel heard, respected, and valued, leading to a more positive healthcare experience.

Best Practices for a Successful PFAC

With the evolution of patient and family centered care, involving PFACs in higher level conversations has become forefront in healthcare planning. This is the right step for many organizations, but they are often left wondering where to start. Having worked closely with patients and families at a large health system and helping create a system-wide Patient and Family Advisory Council, I wanted to share a few take-aways to help organizations start off on the right foot and make a big idea feel attainable: 

  • Ensure the organization is invested in authentically hearing what patients have to say
  • Consider your patient population and try to mirror that in your PFAC members; diversity is important
  • Attempt to find members with a wide variety of experiences with your organization, ie outpatient, specialty, primary care, etc.
  • Utilize your volunteer services department; the council members should be onboarded as volunteers for confidentiality purposes
  • Create bylaws that clearly define leadership roles and seats, including term-limits. Also include what might relieve someone of their duties in the case of lack of participation or inappropriate behavior
  • Meetings should be agreed upon during a time that best first members, always have a virtual option, and include perks (free parking, snacks, or a meal)

PFAC Member Recruitment 

Member recruitment can be challenging, especially as your group is finding its footing. Sometimes, reaching out to patients who have had a good experience with the organization can help you find individuals who are primed to give good input. Feedtrail can help identify those patients. Using Feedtrail’s XM platform, you can easily see positive comments along with contact information. Better yet, with Feedtrail’s identifiers, you can identify your patient populations and find patients that might be interested in helping your organization elevate the patient voice. Additionally, Feedtrail can help segment patients by location or provider, creating another way to diversify patient experiences on your PFAC.

Key Performance Indicators for Advisory Councils

Determining key performance indicators (KPIs) helps assess the impact of the council’s efforts. KPIs may include patient satisfaction scores, patient-centeredness metrics, or the successful implementation of council-driven initiatives. These indicators provide measurable outcomes that demonstrate the value of the PFAC and enable continuous improvement.

Ultimately, surveying patients in real-time with Feedtrail is a great way to get instant patient feedback, segment your patient population, identify council members, send timely messages, and can be a great tool to start a successful PFAC.