July 23, 2020
Incorporating the patient voice into our work has been an explicit goal for HCIF, and the Pennsylvania Opioid Surgical Stewardship Enterprise (POSSE) is an example of a program that has greatly benefitted from the patient perspective. This month’s Partner Profile highlights one of POSSE’s Patient Advisors, Paula Boffa-Taylor, who has provided invaluable feedback that informed the development of patient education materials on post-surgical pain control and opioid use. We connected with Paula through Temple University Health System, which has one of the most robust Patient and Family Advisory Councils (PFAC) in the region. Paula recently rotated off of Temple’s PFAC, but will continue to serve in a Patient Advisor role for POSSE.
How did you become a patient advisor? What motivated you to serve as an advisor?
About 3 years ago, a dear family friend approached my husband to say that Temple Heart and Vascular Institute was starting a PFAC and asked if he would like to become a patient advisor. Ron had quintuple bypass at Temple Hospital 17 years ago and has received all his care there over the years, making him a great candidate. When I heard what the PFAC would be doing, I “nominated” myself! I think my statement was, “I want in!”
What did you find most enjoyable about participating in a Patient and Family Advisory Council?
Although I’ve had many jobs over the year, I consider myself a teacher at heart, and someone for who clear communication is a passion. Being able to help bring a patient or family member point of view to the table has been greatly rewarding.
If you could motivate health care providers to tackle one issue or address one challenge, what would it be?
During my years as a PFAC member, I had the opportunity to work on a variety of committees at Temple Hospital. Based on my experiences, I would urge providers to continue to include “outside” voices to ensure that the incredible work they are doing can be best accessed by patients and their families. One of my favorite volunteer positions was as a member of the Performance Improvement/Patient Safety Committee. There I got to see and learn firsthand the amazing work being done, problems being tackled AND offer ways to make it more accessible and/or understood.
For example, I had the opportunity to serve on a national panel of PFAC members to discuss what health care institutions needed to consider as they welcomed people back after quarantine. I believe it was helpful for institutions to hear that while their focus was on “the now,” they really needed to speak to what had transpired if they wanted to get patients to trust and listen to why/how it was once again safe. I spent many years in business as a Client Relationship Manager. I learned early on that if you wanted to get back on track with constituents and customers, you need to resist the urge to just dive back in. Addressing what came before, what was learned, how it would be different are all important components of helping people move forward and being open to your message. People can’t hear you if you act like nothing happened, no matter if it was as a result of someone’s fault or a national pandemic.
What’s something you’ve learned from bringing your perspective to POSSE and the work in opioid surgical stewardship?
I learned that I was by no means alone. I was especially pleased to meet the many “kindred spirits” who are working to improve health care by including the patient and family member perspective.
* * *
As is evident from her profile, Paula loves to problem solve and understand. She is always looking for ways to do things better and to learn something new. Something she does unconsciously while reading or listening is try to figure out what’s behind the speaker’s point of view. Paula holds a Master’s degree in Music from The University of Michigan. While she did not continue as a musician, the rigorous training she received there has kept her in good stead her entire life.
For more information about POSSE’s patient-centered domain or how HCIF is incorporating the patient voice into their programs, contact Director of Health Literacy, Susan Cosgrove, firstname.lastname@example.org.