Finding the Patient Point of View. A look into the role of the Patient Partner at PANW
August 18, 2017 12:00AM
I work full time. My husband works full time. My kids go to school full time. Life is busy. Time is short. So when I get letters inquiring if I want to spend more time doing things, my usual response is “Uh, no.” However, a few months ago I received one of these letters and I said, “Hmm…Yes?”
The letter was from Pediatric Associates of the Northwest (PANW). They were starting a Patient Partner program and were looking for people who were willing to spend time helping make PANW a better place. A place where patients, parents and caregivers had a voice.Our family has been seeing Dr. Bruce Birk since my oldest was born. We love him and have always valued the care we get from him. We even continued to see Dr. Birk after we moved. However, I have at points found myself thinking, “This seems odd” or “Why do they do this in that way?” But who to give that feedback to? No clue. Now, here I was presented with the opportunity to share my feedback and get it to the right folks. So, a few phone calls, interviews and HIPAA forms later I am now able to share my feedback in a constructive way, and ensure it’s getting to the right people to make a difference.
I’m not alone in my endeavors. I am joined in the journey by Lindsey Adegbite. Lindsey is a great partner and brings a totally different experience. While my kiddos are barely potty-trained, hers are heading off to high school. So, together we’re able to bring different points of view.
You might be thinking, “Great, good for you. Why do I care?”
Here’s why. Healthcare is complicated. The system is convoluted. Providers care and want to do their best but there are competing pressures. Insurance companies, regulators, legislators, oh my. Each entity trying to do what they think is best, but pulling providers in different directions. In trying to balance these pressures, some places lose sight of what is most important: The patient. PANW wants to make sure this doesn’t happen and Lindsey and I are here to help. They see the value of, literally, patients as partners, and, so they developed an official patient partner program.
What is it we actually do? We participate on various committees to provide the patient and family perspective regarding patient care, organizational policies, processes, and programs. For example, did you know minors are legally able to make their own medical decisions starting at age 14 for some things? I certainly didn’t. You might not either until you bring your dear little one in for his annual well-child appointment and are asked to remain in the waiting room. Whoa! Big change.
As a parent what do I need to know about this transition? The pediatricians know what’s coming, they deal with it all the time, but for me this is a once in a lifetime thing – well, maybe twice given I have two kiddos – and I have so many questions. As part of our first project, we’re going to provide clarity around this early adolescent time period and what it means for the parent as well as the patient. We’ve been helping address things like:
- What’s the best way to communicate this change?
- What types of questions do we have as parents?
- How can we make this is a smooth transition for everyone involved?
More to come from Lindsey and me over the coming months. In the meantime, make sure to tell your provider and the staff at PANW what is working well for you and what can help us be an even more convenient, comprehensive place to call your medical home.
Patient Partner, Portland Office
Lindsey is a law student at Willamette University College of Law and will complete her J.D. in May, 2019. She juggles three boys ages 18, 15, and 7 while attending law school full time and working at the Oregon Department of Justice in the Financial Fraud and Consumer Protection Section. Lindsey's intent with her boys is to raise happy, healthy, successful adults. Lindsey spends her free hours spending time with family, reading, and volunteering.
Natalie is a northwest native who juggles a career, two high-energy preschoolers, and finding time to enjoy life. She’s always been interested in healthcare and thought she might want to be a doctor until she realized she couldn’t deal with bodily fluids. Now she’s a raconteur at WE Communications helping tech companies tell their stories. When she’s not giving her (usually unsolicited) opinion, she’s looking for excuses to get outside. Go Huskies, or Ducks, she graduated from both.