Patients key to improving care at Connecticut hospitals

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U.S. Dept. of Agriculture

Connecticut hospitals, in collaboration with patient advocates and quality experts, are looking to patients to provide critical insight into how to improve healthcare. Empowering patients, providing better care, and eliminating harm are the goals of the Connecticut Hospital Association (CHA) and its member hospitals, the Connecticut Center for Patient Safety, Qualidigm, and the Connecticut Partnership for Patient Safety.

Together, our organizations are focusing on partnering with patients and gaining their perspective.

We know that each patient is unique and every care experience is different.   Information shared by patients helps hospitals identify any gaps in care and find ways to improve care and make it safer, and helps healthcare systems become more patient-centered. Hospitals want to know from patients how they were treated, how well caregivers communicated with them, whether their questions were addressed, and whether the care provided was appropriate, safe, and effective.

Building and strengthening Patient and Family Advisory Councils (PFACs) at hospitals across the state is critical to improving patient care. Many of Connecticut’s hospitals have worked to create PFACs, composed of hospital patients, family members, and hospital staff who are committed to quality improvement and who know the value of informed input provided by patients and their families.

Patient and family engagement is part of a major patient safety movement under way in Connecticut called High Reliability. High Reliability is a science involving behaviors and tools to improve safety. It has been adopted by high-risk industries such as nuclear power and naval aviation, with successful results.

Three years ago, CHA and Connecticut hospitals were the first in the nation to implement High Reliability across an entire state. Since that time, tens of thousands of Connecticut hospital staff have been trained in High Reliability, and there has been a reduction in Serious Safety Events™.  Hospitals are learning, sharing, and applying nationally recognized, evidence-based practices to achieve the highest standards of quality and safety – and serving as a national model for positive culture change, innovation, and leadership.

PFACs are also an important area of focus for other patient safety initiatives under way in Connecticut and throughout the country. In its current quality improvement efforts, Medicare is focusing on patient and family engagement to promote the patient voice and the reduction of harm.

Our kickoff event, which will be held this month, will feature keynote presentations from a patient who experienced the challenges of navigating healthcare settings and who now partners with healthcare organizations to improve the patient experience. Another keynote presentation will be delivered by a national expert on how patient and family advisory councils can effectively engage patients to have a lasting impact. Representatives from Planetree and the Institute for Patient-and Family-Centered Care will discuss establishing and sustaining PFACs. Finally, a number of Connecticut hospitals will provide case studies and best practices for implementation.

We know that there is more work to do to improve care and eliminate harm, but the hospital community, in partnership with patients, families, advocates, and quality experts, is committed to moving forward together to implement positive change to improve patient safety, care, and satisfaction.

Jennifer Jackson, CEO, Connecticut Hospital Association
Timothy Elwell, President / CEO, Qualidigm®
Lisa Freeman, Executive Director, Connecticut Center for Patient Safety
Judith Kunisch, President, Connecticut Partnership for Patient Safety

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