Part Three: Do we pay these advisors? Is that necessary?
An otherwise lowkey webinar discussing a well-formed patient family advisory board of a Midwest children’s hospital burst into a lively discussion when the hospital representative was asked if their advisors were paid. While explaining they were not, but offered on-site child care and a meal if a meeting was held during a lunch or dinner hour, she also said that advisors told her they did not want to get paid. They liked the independence they had by not being paid……they were not obligated to more than what they chose to do. Furthermore, being paid could compromise their objectivity. All that made sense……but how then is their value rendered? If CMS is restructuring payment to health systems based on value and patient satisfaction is pivotal to this value, how is value expressed to the advisors? Routine surveys from CMS to state hospital associations typically include a question about the development of patient family hospital councils or board among their member hospitals. These patient family advisors’ matter! And how they matter is being measured in part by dollar signs. Patient advisors cannot be treated like volunteers from the past, handing out magazines and flowers. I serve on advisory committees of a national and regional quality improvement organizations following CMS directives on improving patient care delivery. Committee members were selected in part for their interest and experience with patient engagement, and for their backgrounds which includes many either currently in or recently retired as health professionals. Their information is valuable! So, value must be applied.
What are the alternatives to outright payroll? Plenty!
- Parking paid
- Meals, if meeting during breakfast, lunch or dinner
- Child care. Some hospitals offer onsite child care, but there may be restrictions i.e., no babies, no children over a certain age, etc. If an onsite child care is not accommodating, then payment for child care should be provided
- Elder care; more than a third of patients in hospitals are over 65, the largest percentage of any age group. For those serving later as a family advisory board, it is likely they may be caring for someone elderly and will need elder care to attend meetings. It makes sense.
- Pay for public transportation, or mileage
- Here is an important one. An honorarium based on a scale of involvement. This should be transparent: i.e., how an honorarium is paid, based on that scale of involvement.
Additionally, offer the following:
- Hospitals are often engaged in offering various programs, trainings, seminars and conferences, especially teaching hospitals. Free admittance should be offered to those engaged with family advisory councils, and when possible, participation as a speaker or panelist.
- Participation in a hospitals Speakers Bureau
- A well written and professional job description offered to advisors they can used in their LinkedIn profiles and resumes.
- Opportunities to participate in off-site conferences with expenses paid. Criteria needs to be established for this.
With rights, come responsibilities. If value is offered to family advisors, training should reflect this value whereby advisors received a certificate of training:
- HIPAA regulations
- Lean Six Sigma, yellow belt
- Patient safety
- Healthcare ethics
- Hospital Protocol and Governance
- Roles for Patient Family Advisors
- Hospital engagement and trends with trainings, research, quality improvement
- Hospital ‘lingo’ (‘hospital speak’)
- Hospitals goals and objectives dealing with medical errors/HAIs (hospital acquired infections) …. still the 3rd leading cause of death in the US