Strategy 1: Working With Patients and Families as Advisors

Research shows that when patients are engaged in their health care, it can lead to measurable improvements in safety and quality. To promote stronger engagement, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality developed the Guide to Patient and Family Engagement in Hospital Quality and Safety, a tested, evidence-based resource to help hospitals work as partners with patients and families to improve quality and safety.

Working with patients and families as advisors at the organizational level is a critical part of patient and family engagement and patient- and family-centered approaches to improving quality and safety. Patient and family advisors are valuable partners in efforts to reduce medical errors and improve the safety and quality of health care. Strategy 1: Working With Patients and Families as Advisors shows how hospitals can work with patients and family members as advisors at the organizational level.

Working With Patient and Families as Advisors Implementation Handbook gives an overview of and rationale for the strategy, outlines five steps for putting the strategy into place, and includes specific suggestions for how to work with patient and family advisors.
[ Microsoft Word file Microsoft Word version - 12.92 MB ; PDF file PDF version - 850.44 KB

Word and PowerPoint files are provided so that hospitals can tailor them for their organizations. 

Tools for this strategy include—

  1. Become a Patient and Family Advisor: Working Together to Help Improve Our Hospital—Brochure that provides information on who patient and family advisors are, how they help the hospital, and who can become an advisor.
    [ Microsoft Word file Microsoft Word version - 1.19 MB ; PDF file PDF version - 156.29 KB ]
  2. Do you have ideas to help improve our hospital? Become a patient and family advisor—Postcard for clinicians or hospital staff to give to potential patient and family advisors along with a verbal invitation to get involved. The postcard describes the role of an advisor and tells potential advisors how to get more information. Note: The Word document uses hidden text. To see the text, go to Word Options, select Display, and choose the Hidden text box.
    [ Microsoft Word file Microsoft Word version - 2.62 MB ; PDF file PDF version - 171.61 KB ]
  3. Patient and Family Advisor Application Form—Form that advisors complete that includes basic demographic information, questions on why the applicant wants to be an advisor, and questions on prior relevant experiences as an advisor or volunteer. Note: The Word document uses hidden text. To see the text, go to Word Options, select Display, and choose the Hidden text box
    [ Microsoft Word file Microsoft Word version - 467.67 KB ; PDF file PDF version - 255.1 KB ]
  4. Sample Invitation and Regret Letters for Advisory Council Applicants - Sample invitation and regret letters for patients and family members who have applied to be advisory council members.
    [ Microsoft Word file Microsoft Word version - 464.89 KB ; PDF file PDF version - 237.2 KB ] -
  5. Patient and Family Advisor Information Session – PowerPoint presentation that gives information on who patient and family advisors are, what they do, and how they help the hospital and provides tips from other advisors.
    [ Microsoft PowerPoint file Microsoft PowerPoint version - 228.28 KB ; PDF file PDF version - 174.1 KB ]
  6. Am I Ready to Become an Advisor? – Handout for the advisor information session.
    [ Microsoft Word file Microsoft Word version - 460.88 KB ; PDF file PDF version - 234.72 KB ]
  7. Sharing My Story: A Planning Worksheet—Handout for the advisor information session. Note: The Word document uses hidden text. To see the text, go to Word Options, select Display, and choose the Hidden text box.
    [ Microsoft Word file Microsoft Word version - 462.55 KB ; PDF file PDF version - 214.81 KB ]
  8. My Participation Interests - Form that is completed at the end of the advisor information session to match interests with the hospital’s needs. Note: The Word document uses hidden text. To see the text, go to Word Options, select Display, and choose the Hidden text box.
    [ Microsoft Word file Microsoft Word version - 451.19 KB ; PDF file PDF version - 127.45 KB ]
  9. Patient and Family Advisor Orientation Manual - Manual that provides information on hospital safety and quality, on what patient and family advisors do and how they help the hospital, and tips for being a patient and family advisor.
    [ Microsoft Word file Microsoft Word version - 2.03 MB ; PDF file PDF version - 433.12 KB ]
  10. Sample Confidentiality Statement—Sample statement that hospitals can ask patient and family advisors or council members to sign before participating in advisory activities. Note: The Word document uses hidden text. To see the text, go to Word Options, select Display, and choose the Hidden text box.
    [ Microsoft Word file Microsoft Word version - 465.45 KB ; PDF file PDF version - 215.81 KB ]
  11. Working With Patient and Family Advisors—PowerPoint presentation of a two-part training for clinicians and staff. Part 1, Introduction and Overview, discusses who patient and family advisors are, the benefits of working with them, and opportunities for doing so. Part 2, Building Effective Partnerships, helps clinicians and hospital staff develop partnership skills.
    [ Microsoft PowerPoint file Microsoft PowerPoint version - 273.71 KB ; PDF file PDF version - 241.13 KB ]
  12. Working With Patient and Family Advisors - Handout for the clinician and staff training session that outlines the role of patient and family advisors and opportunities for working with them.
    [ Microsoft Word file Microsoft Word version - 1.36 MB ; PDF file PDF version - 111.79 KB ] -
  13. Working With Patient and Family Advisors on Short-Term Projects—Handout for the clinician and staff training session that contains suggestions for ways to incorporate advisors on short-term projects along with a form to request advisor participation.
    [ Microsoft Word file Microsoft Word version - 468.01 KB ; PDF file PDF version - 350.54 KB ]
  14. Readiness to Partner with Patient and Family Advisors—Handout for the clinician and staff training session that contains a checklist of behaviors and attitudes to determine readiness to partner with advisors
    [ Microsoft Word file Microsoft Word version - 461.01 KB ; PDF file PDF version - 234.97 KB ]

Users can also download all of the materials in zipped format by selecting: http://www.ahrq.gov/downloads/patfamilyengageguide/strategy1zipfiles.zip; 25.8 MB.

Page last reviewed June 2013
Internet Citation: Strategy 1: Working With Patients and Families as Advisors. June 2013. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/professionals/systems/hospital/engagingfamilies/strategy1/index.html