• Innovation in Action

Jan 5, 2022

Patient and Family Advisory Council and Increased Communication Boost Patient Satisfaction


Sentara Halifax Regional Hospital in Virginia, which was recently recognized as a 2021 Health Quality Innovator of the Year, leverages an active Patient and Family Advisory Council (PFAC) that offers a non-clinical perspective and guidance to help ensure that the hospital’s services meet the community’s needs.

“In addition to patient-focused services such as spiritual care, health gardens, a faith story program and a chaplain program, the PFAC helped organize an Appreciate Service Card program that allows patients to acknowledge excellent care and service received during their stay,” said Wendy Crews, Manager of Guest Services and Community Engagement at Sentara Halifax.

As part of the appreciation program, patients are provided a token by guest services representatives during customer service rounds and explained that they are to be given to staff members who provide excellent service during their stay. They are encouraged to be presented to any employee from dietary, nursing, environmental health services or physicians. Staff who receive them take the tokens to a station to be drawn for a prize.

“The program was developed to allow patients to show gratitude in real-time with their caregivers for providing great service,” Crews said. “The program increased communication between patients and employees and has been a morale booster for everyone.”

In addition to providing patients tokens, guest services staff have increased communication using other methods during their rounds. Patients are asked specific questions to ensure they understand their treatment plan, care and discharge instructions. Crews said this service even extends beyond the hospital walls with follow-up phone calls to patients after they are discharged. Staff again check to ensure patients understand their discharge instructions, have filled any prescriptions and made their follow-up appointment.

“Our guest services department has become very involved in becoming a partner with the nursing units to be proactive with customer service instead of reactive,” Crews said.

Within the past year, these types of changes have been part of a major cultural shift within Sentara Halifax Regional Hospital, according to Crews, and it has had a major influence in increasing patient satisfaction scores. Within the Sentara divisions, Sentara Halifax Regional Hospital is ranked highest on several customer service indicators.

“Although we are not perfect, we continue to work toward better serving our community by being the health care facility they need us to be,” Crews said.