LANDSTUHL, Germany - You visit your doctor. A problem is identified.

Your doctor prescribes treatment. Out the door you go, on your way to perfect health.

As most people who have visited a doctor's office know, medical issues are not always that simple.

Sometimes instructions are misunderstood.

Perhaps the treatment is more difficult than the patient wants, such as unpleasant side effects, or maybe a follow-up appointment is needed and can't be scheduled at a convenient time.

Regardless of the reason, the treatment may not be accomplished and the problem continues.

An initiative currently underway at Europe Regional Medical Command and Landstuhl Regional Medical Center may provide a different scenario, with a path toward a more healthy and mutually satisfying outcome: Patient and Family Centered Care (PFCC).

"Patient and Family Centered Care allows patients full partnership in medical decision-making," said Col. (Dr.) Tim Pendergrass, Deputy Commander for Clinical Services at LRMC.

"The patient perspective we adopt in this setting is, 'Nothing About Me Without Me.'"

Patient and Family Centered Care has been successfully implemented at many civilian hospitals, and more recently at military medical treatment facilities in the United States, including Walter Reed and Fort Campbell, Kentucky," said Col. (Dr.) John Cho, LRMC Commander.

"In addition to improving patient, family and staff satisfaction, medical outcomes have improved and medical errors have decreased in facilities utilizing PFCC."

The goal of PFCC is to involve patients in all aspects of their care.

"We want to encourage patients to actively participate across the medical spectrum," said Command Sgt. Major Benjamin H.S. Scott, Jr., LRMC Command Sergeant Major.

"This can include participating in individual medical treatment decisions, serving as official committee members in efforts to improve patient safety at LRMC, and even collaborating on designs for building and parking improvements."

While all patients and family members treated at LRMC are afforded opportunities to participate in their individual health care, officials are seeking volunteers to serve in PFCC advisor roles.

These advisors will be appointed to various committees and task forces focused on improving the overall patient and family medical care experience at LRMC.

"Advisors need to be able to take a global view of our health care facility," Scott said.

He explained that advisors must look past their or their family members' particular needs and focus on what actions or changes would benefit all healthcare recipients at LRMC.

"Advisors," he added, "need to complete a very brief Red Cross Orientation to ensure they understand our organization and the very special privacy concerns shared by all medical facilities."

Some sections of the hospital have already successfully embraced certain facets of PFCC.

The Quality Management Division studied implementation of the process in 2008 and performed an initial assessment of LRMC.

Two clinics have begun using PFCC principles, and one physician has already redesigned her office space based on patients' and families' inputs.

Some patient advisors have already been assigned to committees and focus groups.

But LRMC officials are quick to point out that implementing PFCC is a long, continuous process. PFCC began in civilian medical centers in Georgia and Boston in the early 1990s and continues to evolve at those locations.

PFCC is not a "point-in-time effort; it is a continuous, fluid process," Cho said.

LRMC is committed to embracing this innovative approach which has proven to be both cost effective and an efficient way to improve both healthcare outcomes and customer satisfaction.

For more information or to find out how to become a PFCC advisor, please contact Elaine Williams at DSN 590-8326, civ. 06371-6494-8326, or Robert Steed at DSN 590-5018 or civ. 06371-6494-5018.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16