Article Title

Leveraging Core Competencies of Collaboration and Innovation to Create a Health System Patient Advisor Resource

Publication Date



patient advisor, engagement


Background/Aims: The Institute of Medicine’s Six Aims for Improvement include health care that is patient-centered. With this foundation, Henry Ford has established a unique network rooted in patient, community and health system priorities to create a patient advisor group housed in its public health sciences department. This sustainable health system resource recruits, trains and engages four types of patient/family advisors (PFA): health system advisors, research advisors, e-advisors, and focus group advisors. These advisors are integrated into patient-centered outcomes research, quality improvement projects and service excellence teams, with an increasing demand for more advisors throughout the system.

Methods: Located in a vertically integrated health system, our innovation is making patient-centered approaches central to our research and to the health care the system provides. By leveraging our core competencies of collaboration and innovation, this group was built on the foundation of shared patient, community and health system interests with an overall goal to create advisory councils at all system locations. This framework recruits and trains a representative group of PFAs and embeds them in projects where their perspective is incorporated into patient care, work processes and current/future research. Through collaboration with PFAs, researchers, community leaders, system senior leadership, and clinical, operational and corporate support services, we are continuously evaluating our processes, learning and making improvements.

Results: A key success story example is our process improvement project for head and neck cancer patients begun as a PFA council to develop a patient resource guide, which evolved using our engagement model into a Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute-funded award to study quality-of-life outcomes. Total PFAs = 110, total system improvement teams = 8, and total research project teams = 5.

Conclusion: Developing a PFA resource has provided three key benefits. Researchers benefit by executing patient-centered research through engagement of advisors in all phases of projects, including the development of new grant ideas. PFAs benefit by sharing their stories with providers to create evidence-based improvements and results. Finally, learning how we can improve our health system through the eyes of patients can improve outcomes through safe, effective and patient-centered care processes.




July 5th, 2016


August 12th, 2016