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Contemplate: CCO's PFAC Experience
“I had a great experience; but I want to use my story to help other people. Everyone should have a good experience.”
–A PFAC Advisor


  • One department within CCO formed the PFAC under its umbrella.
  • The CCO PFAC was supported by a clinical leader, program manager, project coordinator and a senior administrative assistant spending about 2 hours/week on the initiative.
  • The vision and mission were predetermined before the formation of the PFAC.

Questions that came up

Pre-PFAC Creation:

  • Does creating a PFAC seem reasonable and attainable? 
  • Is there enough support from the team in place? 
  • Who else needs to be involved?
  • What kind of support is needed from management to be successful in being able to create and sustain a PFAC? 
  • What is the organization hoping to get out of the creation of a PFAC?  Is this reasonable?  How else might this be achieved?
  • Who else has done this before?  What can we learn from them?
  • How do we create the PFAC without exploiting patients and family for their time and shared experience?

Post-PFAC Creation:

  • What is working well?
  • What could be “even better if”? (EBI’s)

Lessons Learned & Recommendations

Senior Leadership Engagement

Engagement of senior leaders and board in an organization is step number one in decision making on whether to create a patient and family advisory council. The support of executive leadership is crucial to confirm the organization’s commitment to and validation of the role of the patient and family advisory council. 

Has the organization outlined in its strategic plan that the engagement of patient and family advisors is an essential deliverable? How will the organization use the advisors; in what capacity; for what purpose; and for what period of time?

For example, if the organization’s intent is to use the advisors to review materials only, then the number of advisors and the limitation of their role are clear.

If the organization has committed to the concept of patient and family advisors on all committees, across the organization; and the notion is that this advisory council is supported with a budget and staff resources, then this signals substantive engagement of the advisory council as an integral entity. The executive leadership will expect specific deliverables, indicators and feedback as part of the organization’s performance plan.

The support of senior leadership and their engagement in the strategy to develop and sustain a patient and family advisory council is the most important element.

Clarity of Purpose

The second important element is to establish the purpose of the Council; and how the organization intends to use this valuable expertise.

Patients and family members want to be engaged and active as advisors. They want to work to improve the experiences for others; irrespective of whether their own experience was positive or negative. They want their role to be meaningful in terms of advising where changes might be made.  While some members might be content to review materials, most are not. 

We envisioned the mandate of the council to work in collaboration and partnership with us, to use their experience in system design. The members are the internal expert panel of the organization. 

Senior leaders may define the purpose of the council. But both the Board and senior leadership need to commit to having a patient and family council; and in that commitment support the notion that they will use the advice to improve the organization’s approach to quality and performance.

Last modified: Fri, Dec 21, 2012
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