Table 2.

Proposed Best Practices for Patient Advisory Councils (PACs)

ActivityBest PracticeSupporting Quotes
Logistics/SetupMembership of 7–15 people with term limits, monthly meetings“At first we were only three or four and now we're 12 or 13 members, so I think that if we had more members from the very beginning the changes could have been achieved more quickly.”
Reimbursement/ incentives“So for each, in compensation for like their time, each patient gets a gift card, a $10 gift card, each meeting they come.”
Dedicated staff with protected time/resources for planning“There has to be sort of staff resource in place as far as is there someone who has the capacity to sort of lead this project… I'm a full time staff person and I spend a lot of my work life helping to manage this… so it does take some time and effort.”
Engaged leadership“The top senior management team needs to be completely, 100% involved in the process and then get everyone excited and buy-in and help them through statistics and examples and patient stories.”
RecruitmentFormal interview process with consideration of communication skillsSo I think it was so important for us to sit down, to go through an interview process. Can you communicate with each other in a productive way?… And making sure that we had at least people with different experiences to bring, and then sharing with them really what our mission is about.”
Focus on establishing a PAC that is reflective of the patient population served“We do, you know, in the kind of instructions we give them to recruit patients or support we give them to recruit patients, we really ask them to make sure that they recruit someone that's sort of reflective of some of the demographics of their practice.
Support/training for new members“We empower them through the Advisory Council… we really teach our advisors to do that so if they don't come with those skills, those are teachable skills.”
Term limits; ongoing/rolling recruitment“We do have term limitations on our council members… ‘cause we need fresh voices.”
Meeting ProcessStrong, trained facilitators“You can create this trust where people like they don't feel like judged if like they bring an idea that's not good… I would really work on having this like safety space where everybody feels they can share ideas and they won't be criticized.”
Patients bring their own experiences for practice improvement projects“Patients also initiate projects. It kind of comes up more like I have this concern. And then we break down what might have led to that experience.”
Staff members come to present to advisory council for “focus groups”“Each meeting, there is always somebody from some—like the library or like today we had the lady with the other group. They come in and let us know what they're up to and what's going on with them.”
PACs reach out to broader clinic to hear patient needs
Implementation/Follow-upClear definitions of roles for operationalizing projects, with both staff and patients contributing.“I think that in order that the council works things should be done together with the staff and I also suggested that all the staff members should be notified of the changes.”
Selection of the “right” project on the right scale“Most of the time (clinic leadership) are very receptive to the ideas. And if for some reason they can't do anything about it right now, then they say, ‘That's a great idea but right now we're holding off on it.’ So then I reported that back to the Advisory Board.”
Clear channels of communication and follow-up between advisory councils and rest of clinic“It's really important that the opinion goes somewhere so we try to be cognizant of trying to tell the council, “the last time you gave us this feedback. This is what happened to it and we think this is going to be the next steps we're going to take to making this change.”