Empowering Health Care Consumers

Grantee Name

Institute for Patient- and Family-Centered Care

Funding Area

Empowering Health Care Consumers

Publication Date

January 2019

Grant Amount


Grant Date:

January 2017–July 2018

Patient and Family Advisory Councils (PFACs) provide an opportunity for patients and families to bring their perspectives to bear on hospital-related decisions (e.g., policies, staffing, communications, and facilities) and governance.

Although effective in improving patient outcomes, PFACs are generally not seen as essential to a patient’s recovery. In response, state and federal agencies have begun initiatives that aim to increase the role of PFACs in reflecting the needs and concerns of patients and families. Despite the growing recognition of their need, there is a dearth of information on the number of PFACs in New York State and how they vary in their composition and roles.

In 2017, NYSHealth awarded the Institute for Patient- and Family-Centered Care (IPFCC) a grant to address this information gap in New York State.

Outcomes and Lessons Learned

  • Convened a project advisory committee comprising patient and family advisors and advocacy groups; representatives from hospital trade associations and other hospital leadership; government officials; and local and national PFAC experts.
  • Conducted key informant interviews, site visits, and an online survey of New York State hospitals to assess PFACs.
  • Evaluated the prevalence and impact of PFACs in New York State, including where PFACs currently exist and variations in composition, structure, management, and funding. The analysis found that of the New York State hospitals surveyed for this project:
    • About 59% of hospitals have a PFAC, but of that number, only 29% have a high-functioning one, defined in terms of the PFAC’s influence on hospital leadership, strategies, and operations. High-performing PFACs are more likely to provide orientation and training, integrate patient and family advisors into other committees, and evaluate their efforts;
    • About 12% of hospitals reported having a PFAC in development; these were more likely to be critical access hospitals and hospitals in rural counties.
    • Nearly 30% of hospitals reported having neither a PFAC nor plans to develop one.
    • Hospitals with PFACs (whether high- or lower-performing) do better on measures of quality and patient satisfaction than hospitals with no PFAC, including on certain Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) quality and safety metrics and Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems scores in terms of patients’ likelihood to recommend the hospital.
  • Published a first-of-its-kind study on PFACs in New York State, “Strategically Advancing Patient and Family Advisory Councils in New York State Hospitals,” with recommendations and best practices for implementing successful PFACs, increasing their prevalence, and enhancing their meaningful use across New York State, including:
    • Build partnerships with patients and families into State and quality safety initiatives.
    • Create opportunities for shared learning and mentorship around PFAC work.
    • Develop guidance to help hospitals access existing PFAC training resources in ways that address the need for tailored information.
    • Conduct additional research about the evolution and impact of PFACs and expand work to other states and settings.
    • Disseminate PFAC study results to share learnings within and outside of New York State.

IPFCC’s analysis found that hospital PFACs are an effective way to engage patients and families, giving consumers a meaningful seat at the table in health care delivery. By describing the landscape of PFACs in New York State hospitals—both their prevalence and variations in characteristics—this report builds the case for increasing the number of PFACs statewide and partnering with patients and families in improvement and change. The study began a needed exploration of PFAC performance and the impact of PFACs not only on hospital strategy and operations but also on the quality and safety of care. The study also confirms and augments prior knowledge about best practices for PFACs.

IPFCC widely disseminated the report and its findings through its e-newsletter, on its website, at seminars and conferences, and as part of its consulting and technical assistance activities. The report was released at the 2018 International Conference on Patient- and Family-Centered Care, where it was distributed to more than 1,000 participants. Additionally, IPFCC presented on the report to the CMS’s Hospital Improvement Innovation Network, which then shared it with the network’s 4,000 participating hospitals and highlighted how hospitals can apply best practices to their own work with PFACs.

In April 2019, NYSHealth Vice President for Programs Sharrie McIntosh will also highlight the report’s findings at The Beryl Institute’s Patient Experience Conference for health care professionals. In addition, a project led by Island Peer Review Organization (IPRO) and X4 Health, supported by NYSHealth, will pilot a new model that uses virtual technology to improve patient participation and involve a larger, more diverse array of patients and families in PFACs.

Co-Funding and Additional Funds Leveraged: N/A