Person and Family Engagement Q&A with Maaden Eshete Jones

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Maaden Eshete Jones, CMS
Maaden Eshete Jones, CMS

Maaden Eshete Jones, MPH serves as a Technical Advisor for Communications and Outreach at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). In that capacity, she is responsible for overseeing communications and outreach-related activities for the Center for Clinical Standards and Quality’s Quality Improvement and Innovation Group. Jones has led the CMS Quality Conference, the Person & Family Engagement Affinity Group, and provides communications counsel for the Quality Improvement Organization (QIO) Program. Before assuming this position, Jones served as Digital Content Manager for at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS); Lead Communications Officer with the Office of Minority Health at HHS; a Health Insurance Specialist at CMS; and Interim Project Manager at Delmarva Foundation. She holds an MPH in Social and Behavioral Health Science from Morgan State University and a B.S. degree in Biological Sciences from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

Q. Can you provide us with some background on CMS’ Person & Family Engagement (PFE) Affinity Group and its mission?

The PFE Affinity Group is one of 12 groups that came out of the CMS Quality Strategy. Our affinity group’s mission is to take inventory of all PFE activities happening around CMS and pull them together into one comprehensive PFE Strategy, as well as to define tactical steps that enable us to coordinate and collaborate better with partners and stakeholders involved in PFE. Our PFE Strategy’s vision is a transformed health care system that proactively engages persons and caregivers in the definition, design and delivery of their care.

Q. What have been the PFE Affinity Group’s main areas of focus this year?

Our main objectives have been to engage with stakeholders and our HHS leadership to get the PFE Strategy finalized — something that we plan to achieve by year’s end — and to align our charter, goals and measures with how we want to move the needle. The PFE Strategy will serve as a guidebook and be a living document that evolves over time. We have been engaging with associations, patients, caregivers and other stakeholders to get their input on it. We also want to engage with these audiences when rolling out the Strategy, so we are putting together a comprehensive outreach plan and toolkit for stakeholders and engaged parties. 

Q. How is the work of the PFE Affinity Group impacting the activities of CMS’ Quality Networks? How is the affinity group engaging with them?

The group has provided an opportunity for the Quality Networks to align with it and to have a direct impact on the CMS Quality and the PFE Strategies. The PFE work being performed by Quality Networks helped contribute to the goals, objectives and basic principles of the PFE Strategy. We will continue to rely on the Quality Networks as a feedback/​response group. We have engaged with CMS’ Quality Networks in a variety of ways, including face-to-face at the 2015 Quality Conference, via phone calls, and on stakeholder engagement webinars during the development of the Strategy.

Q. CMS changed the name of the affinity group from Patient and Family Engagement” to Person and Family Engagement.” Can you explain that decision?

Toward the end of 2015, we began making calls to stakeholders and inquiring about language being used in the field. We heard from most stakeholders that the preferred concept was person” to reflect the fact that people — including Medicare beneficiaries — are not always in the position of being patients. We decided to adopt this terminology based on this feedback, and to keep in line with the call at CMS and across the broader HHS community to keep the person at the center of our work.

Q. Anything else you would like QIO News readers to know?

The PFE Strategy is a CMS-wide effort, and we have engaged with other federal partners — including sister agencies within HHS — throughout the process of creating it. When it is published, we hope other agencies can use it as the basis for their own PFE strategies. 

Person and family engagement is a concept that is near and dear to the heart of all CMS staff. Most all of us have worn the hat of being either a patient or a caregiver. Many staff members and CMS leaders are still practicing clinicians. We bring our personal connections to work, and that reminds us why we do what we do. We may do a lot of policy and regulatory work, but from our Administrator on down, we have a customer service focus, and one of our key customers is the Medicare beneficiary