Engaging Patient Advisers

This post was contributed by Kristopher N. Lewis, MD, assistant professor of radiology at Augusta University and section chief for pediatric radiology at the Children’s Hospital of Georgia, Augusta. 

For truly patient-centered care, radiologists must engage patients to find out what they expect from their health care experience. We often think we know what’s best for patients.Kristopher Lewis Photo But until we actually ask patients what they want, we risk making uninformed assumptions that could lead to unnecessary costs and ineffective programs. To encourage radiologists to include patients in the care process, the ACR recently formed the Patient- and Family-Centered Care Commission.

At the Children’s Hospital of Georgia, we have a long history of providing patient- and family-centered care. So when we decided to redesign our pediatric imaging suite, we followed our usual protocol and gathered input from patients and their families. We wanted to create an inviting facility that calms patients and families and allows them to be more involved in their care.

We partnered with our hospital’s patient engagement department to form a patient advisory panel, which included parents of pediatric imaging patients who could help inform our project. (See related case study.)

We worked with an architectural and consulting team to develop a preliminary design, which we then presented to the patient advisory panel for their input. We also took informal surveys of patients and families who visited the imaging suite, gathering details about both their good and bad experiences in the department.

We aggregated that information to produce a design that includes an interactive video wall that engages patients as they wait for their exams, a pretend CT scanner that teaches patients and families about their imaging exams, a secondary waiting area where patients and families can talk more privately with technologists and radiologists, and an ambient sound and lighting system that soothes patients during their exams.

Since the redesign was completed last September, patients have reported increased satisfaction with the pediatric imaging department — demonstrating that when it comes to improving the patient experience, we are most successful when we consult the experts: patients themselves.

To find out more about patient-centered care, resources are provided to enhance radiologists’ understanding of — and participation in — new practice and payment models. Additional related content is being presented at ACR 2016 — The Crossroads of Radiology,® with sessions focusing on “Patient-Centered Radiology: Enhancing the Patient Experience Through Compassionate and More Effective Communications,” “Radiology Practice Improvement: Advances in Optimizing the Patient Experience” and “What We Can Learn From Our Customers: Perspectives From Three Non-Radiologists (and One Radiologist).”

Have you started or worked with a patient advisory board? What has been your experience?

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