The feedback goes both ways between the Patient and Family Advisory Committee (PFAC) and the Labette Health Physicians Group, according to Missy Beasley. Recently she was invited to present at the PFAC meetings at Labette Health in Parsons, Kansas.
Beasley is the clinic manager of the 25 physician and NPP multi-specialty clinics located in Parsons, St. Paul, Erie, Altamont, Cherryvale and Independence. Her clinic is a member of the Kansas Healthcare Collaborative Practice Transformation Network (PTN). It was one of the first to join, in October 2015. Beasley works with Josh Mosier, PTN Quality Improvement Advisor. Through their work on the PTN improvement measures, particularly patient involvement, Beasley said a PFAC committee was something the hospital-owned clinic had been wanting to set up. She was glad to join the hospital’s group which comprises 11 community patient and family advisors, one Board of Trustee liaison, and five or six hospital employees.
She anticipated providing answers to questions about the clinic, but was pleased at the helpful insight about the clinic that the PFAC provided in return.
“It definitely makes us step back and look at how the community sees our organization,” she said. “You do your job every day and you don’t see how they see you or their level of understanding.”
A topic of key importance for the clinic was the role of the Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner (ARNP) and their ability to make care plans on their own. “It’s a relatively new concept and some people didn’t understand, for example, that you don’t need to see a doctor for an acute problem such as a cold. The PFAC group brought it to our attention that we need to better educate patients on how to develop care plans and collaborate with physician’s assistants and ARNPs.”
“The staff is definitely receptive to hearing what patients want to know,” Beasley said, and as a result, the clinic is developing a brochure to explain the role of the nurse practitioners and mid-level providers. “I think it will help patients become more comfortable about receiving treatment from mid-levels. I also think it will help them understand the limitations. We have a new patient screening process in our clinic to help place patients with the appropriate provider. We want our patients to understand that if they have extensive medical history, we would direct them to a provider who can give them the most appropriate care.” Beasley said the brochure will be placed in all the clinics that utilize mid-level staff.
The PFAC group also gave the clinic staff a better insight to a patient’s barriers to care, Beasley said. “We see people as ‘non-compliant,’ but we don’t always know why. Sometimes it’s financial, sometimes it’s a lack of transportation. It might be a lack of education on the subject or sometimes people are just ashamed that they need help. We may have resources so we could help them overcome that barrier, but we just don’t know.”
The PFAC feedback was a reminder that “we need to do a better job at explaining,” Beasley said. “Maybe we need to educate our staff to ask more questions, maybe probe a little more. We think everybody knows what we have available and yet sometimes even our staff doesn’t know all that’s available to help patients.”
“With the whole change to MIPS and the changes in reimbursement, we’re going to have to get people more involved in their care. We need to help them so they can take that information and start participating in their care rather than just following instructions. It’s a matter of meeting halfway if they don’t agree, can’t comply or don’t have the means to be compliant.”
“Especially with the increase in deductibles and premiums, patients are becoming wiser to how they spend their health care dollars.” Beasley made an interesting comparison. “If you’re going to get a haircut, you know how much it will cost. We need to become more transparent so people know how much their health care will cost.”
After working with Labette Health Physician Group since 2015, Mosier said, “Labette definitely grasps how health care has changed and will continue to change. Their efforts with their PFAC exemplify the growing importance of incorporating the voice of the patient into the care being delivered. With the PTN’s recent emphasis on patient and family engagement, Labette is doing something that other clinics across Kansas can model, particularly those clinics affiliated with a hospital or health system.”