Process for Creating Patient and Family Caregiver Advisory Super Council

Super Council team members attending the 2016 IPFCC International Conference

Super Council team members attending the 2016 IPFCC International Conference. From left to right: Wade Roseth, Nathan Tesch, Irina Haller, and Jeanne Riese.

Essentia Health, an integrated health system serving primarily rural patients and communities across Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota and Idaho, is accredited as an Accountable Care Organization by the National Committee for Quality Assurance. Headquartered in Duluth, Minnesota, Essentia Health has 15,000 employees including 1900 physicians and advanced practitioners in 15 hospitals, 75 clinics, seven long-term care facilities, two assisted living facilities, four independent living facilities, five ambulance services and one research institute.

Essentia Health has 16 Patient and Family Advisory Councils (PFACs) comprised of patient partners (patients, family members, and caregivers) formed around specific diagnoses, departments, geographic regions, or topics. The PFACs typically hold monthly in-person meetings and share essential feedback, stories, and ideas; this partnership leads to meaningful and positive change in practice at Essentia Health now and in the future.

Essentia Health is in the early stages of engaging advisors and PFACs in research. For example, one patient serves on an oncology research committee. Another is a patient researcher on a grant supporting engagement of patients and clinicians in research. Four serve on a council advising a large, national clinical trial aimed at reducing serious fall-related injuries. With the goal of improving communication among council members and Essentia Health staff, clinicians, and researchers, Essentia Health is creating a virtual Patient and Family/Caregiver Advisory “Super Council” and will invite all members of existing PFACs to join. The “Super Council” will utilize asynchronous technology enabling Patient Partners to participate at a time and place of their choosing, making participation easy, and generating many diverse viewpoints. Email, Microsoft 365, and SharePoint are being leveraged to grow social and scholarly networking engagement opportunities and further involvement in research and other endeavors. Patient Partners are:

  • Advising on the development and prioritizing next steps of the Super Council.
  • Providing suggestions to optimize recruitment and retention.
  • Sharing insight into communities that the health system serves but staff do not reside.

Team members included:

  • Joe Bianco, MD, Director of Primary Care Department
  • Catherine McCarty, PhD, MPH, Principal Research Scientist (former)
  • Nathan Tesch, Research and Evaluation Specialist (former)
  • Irina Haller, PhD, MS, Senior Research Scientist
  • Daniella Virijevic, MA, MBA, Program Manager PFCC and Volunteer Services (former)
  • Allise Taran, MPH, Research and Evaluation Specialist
  • Theresa Angus, Application Systems Analyst
  • Wade Roseth, BA, BS, MA, MEHS, Patient Partner, PFAC
  • Jeanne Riese, BBA, Patient Partner, Oncology PFAC