QIOs in Action: How the New England QIN-QIO’s Patient and Family Advisory Council Is Helping Create More Impactful Resources

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Developing health care quality improvement resources and educational tools is a critical aspect of the work that Quality Innovation Network–Quality Improvement Organizations (QIN-QIO) undertake in their states. But for those resources to be effective, they need to resonate with their target audiences, including Medicare beneficiaries and other partners. This is often a challenge, as many QIN-QIOs operate in multiple states and reach thousands of different stakeholders.

The New England QIN-QIO—the QIN-QIO serving Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont—recently found that there was a gap in its resource development process. Specifically, staff members realized they did not have a formal process to verify that materials produced across their network resonated with stakeholders, including Medicare beneficiaries whom they were intended to reach.

With this in mind, the New England QIN-QIO turned to its multi-state Patient and Family Advisory Council (PFAC) to better inform the development of educational tools and resources that align with beneficiary and community health provider needs.

Established in 2015, New England QIN-QIO’s PFAC has 16 members representing each of the six states. PFAC members, including patients, meet monthly in person or via video conferencing to discuss ongoing methods by which the group can maximize engagement in quality improvement initiatives. Additionally, each member of the PFAC participates in a workgroup session to inform and develop tools, resources and materials that match QIN-QIO and health care community interest areas, as well as their own personal experiences.

Following the session, additional feedback is shared with the PFAC member state liaison, a QIN-QIO state task team member who works closely to develop a relationship and support respective state members.

“The input that we offer influences outcomes and materials that directly impact the care of Medicare beneficiaries,” said Lisa Freeman, New England QIN-QIO’s PFAC member representing Connecticut. “Participating in this PFAC is particularly meaningful because we get to see the results of the work we are doing.”

Results

The first meeting of the PFAC occurred in June 2016. Since then, New England QIN-QIO’s PFAC has helped develop more compelling newsletter content, as well as antibiotic stewardship materials, including posters, presentations for consumers, patient handouts and discharge paperwork for engaged community providers.

Recently, the council determined it was necessary to develop medication disposal resources—a vital area of quality improvement, especially for patients with leftover opioid pain medication. PFAC members partnered with a pharmacy workgroup and the Rhode Island Department of Health to develop a Safe Medicine Disposal card, outlining how beneficiaries and family members in the New England QIN-QIO's coverage area could dispose of old or unused medications.

In addition, a small group of PFAC members with family members in long term care have helped to redesign the New England QIN-QIO's C.A.R.E (Creating A Resident-centered Experience) newsletter, a publication for nursing home staff, residents and their families. Since revising C.A.R.E. to incorporate recommendations from the PFAC, those who receive the newsletter have expressed positive feedback regarding the changes.