Partnering With Patients and Families For Better Care

Imagine a hospital that invites families to stay with their loved ones 24/7, even in the intensive care unit. Or a hospital that involves patients and families in formulating policy to ensure that patients’ needs and concerns are met. Or a hospital that redesigns its physical structure with patients at the table, collaborating with architects, physicians, nurses and others.

This type of philosophy is known as Patient- and Family-Centered Care, and it is a trend that is being recognized and embraced by hospitals across the United States.  Patient- and Family-Centered Care involves truly partnering with patients and families, not only involving them in decisions about their care, but also gaining the benefit of their help and insights to better plan and deliver care, and evaluate that care. 

The health system at Augusta University is recognized as a pioneer in Patient- and Family-Centered Care by the American Hospital Association and the Institute for Family-Centered Care.  Augusta University began practicing Patient and Family-Centered Care in 1993 when it involved patients and family members in the planning and architectural design of its Children's Hospital of Georgia. Since that time, numerous other efforts that reflect Patient- and Family-Centered Care have been initiated.

Patients’ perspectives were incorporated in the redesign of several areas in the adult hospital, including the mammography area of Medical Center at Augusta University Breast Health Services, a PET/CT unit and a Neuroscience Intensive Care Unit, as examples. The redesign of these units created warm and welcoming spaces to help increase patient comfort, privacy and convenience.

“Patient and Family-Centered Care asks us to empower patients and families so they are aware, knowledgeable and actively engaged in their own health care,” said Pat Sodomka, former senior vice president of Patient- and Family-Centered Care at Augusta University. “What we’ve learned since we started this journey in 1993 is that when we involve patients and families, quality of care improves. It’s really that simple.”

Patient and Family-Centered Care works

Children's Hospital of Georgia was built utilizing a comprehensive Patient- and Family-Centered Care model. Since its opening in December 1998, the Children's Hospital of Georgia has consistently ranked in the top 10 percent of the Press Ganey national database for pediatric hospitals.

When Augusta University redesigned its Breast Health Center, the results were evident. Faculty, administration and front line employees embraced planning with experienced breast health patients and family members at the table. As a result, the Breast Health Center saw its patient satisfaction scores move from the 40th percentile (April 2003) to the top 10 percent of the Press Ganey national data base of test and treatment services (June 2006).

Our Neuroscience Adult Inpatient Unit was totally redesigned with full participation of patients and families. As a result, the unit has seen improvements in their patient satisfaction scores. Augusta University's philosophy of Patient- and Family-Centered Care aims to give patients choices, tools and a voice to speak up and become full partners in their own health care. “Our organization is committed to this philosophy and to the benefits and improvements in care it offers to our patients,” said Ms. Sodomka.   

To learn more about Patient- and Family-Centered Care, please call 706-721-6838.