Guest Post: QIN-QIOs Undergoing Merger Spread PFAC Best Practices

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This article was contributed by HealthInsight.

HealthInsight—the Quality Innovation Network-Quality Improvement Organization (QIN-QIO) serving New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon and Utah — has expanded the use of Patient and Family Advisory Councils (PFACs) throughout all of the states it represents.

By partnering with patients and caregivers and developing PFACs, QIN-QIOs capture patients’ wisdom and experience, which ensures project design, initiatives and outreach efforts align with the needs of patients and families in their communities. 

For example, members of the PFAC may be asked to discuss how they manage their diabetes and high blood pressure. This input can change the course of how the QIN-QIO goes about working with providers or raising awareness locally.

While some PFACs are well established, others are in their infancy. Additionally, the projects they tackle vary by state.

Earlier this year HealthInsight and Qualis Health, the QIN-QIO for Idaho and Washington, announced a plan to merge, combining the two organizations and their operations. This opened the door for HealthInsight to share successes from its more established PFACs with Qualis Health, which had recently established a PFAC. To facilitate learning, development and sharing of best practices across all PFACs, the QIN-QIOs began implementing a regional PFAC model involving all six states and the two regional End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) Networks. So far, the regional PFACs have held two meetings with plans for future quarterly meetings underway. 

These meetings resulted in some of the PFACs adopting the OpenNotes initiative as their regional focus for spreading best practices in patient engagement. As part of this challenge, the group spotlighted other projects as well, such as increasing immunization rates though an adviser competition challenge. In this challenge, members of the New Mexico PFAC contacted friends and family members about the importance of receiving an annual flu shot. Advisers who contacted the most individuals received small awards and recognition. This grass roots initiative, recommended by advisers, allowed beneficiaries to make a direct contribution to their communities. 

Although regional integration has just begun, the advisers have identified common threads in patient-centered concepts to apply across service sites. Together, PFAC advisers, HealthInsight and Qualis Health hope to expand and replicate this patient-focused effort by developing practical strategies, incorporating evaluation data and furthering PFAC involvement in quality improvement initiatives.