2014 JQS Award Nominee, JQS2014

Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta


As part of its overall strategy to increase transparency and patient empowerment, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta launched a system of Family Advisory Councils (FAC), with the creation of seven diagnosis-specific programs and a System-level Family Advisory Council. In addition, Children’s launched a Family Mentor Program that partners experienced parents with families of children who have been newly diagnosed. Last year, the Family Advisory Council expanded to include 18 family members and 10 staff members, and has trained 56 family members to serve as mentors. These innovations have resulted in meaningful changes that improve the patient experience and better engage with the community.



  • We integrated role of patient empowerment and Family Voice into New Employee Orientation to reinforce messages of relationships, trust and partnership in care with new employees.
  • We partnered with the Billing department to better understand how billing policies, procedures and wording impacting patient families. We evaluated the billing statements and recommended wording changes to be simpler for families to understand, softer in tone and included easy-to- follow steps for families to follow and take action.
  • We determined that for families who were struggling with the financial burden of their child’s hospital stay or care, the previous role that coordinated financial assistance, the Charity Care Coordinator, made families feel uncomfortable. The position was renamed Financial Resource Coordinator to better support the family experience.

Family Advisory Council (FAC) – We created a formalized structure to integrate the Family Voice into operational decision-making, and have used members of the Family Advisory Council to create a parent “speakers bureau” to meet with departments to share the patient-family experience.

  • Standardized application, interview questions and background check process.
  • Identified strategic focus areas and team communication process.
  • Created series of diagnosis-specific councils that report up to the System FAC to create an integrated approach to patient engagement.
  • Departments complete a Department Speaker Request Form to have a parent share their story with staff. This change has also been extremely inspirational particularly for non-clinical departments who are offsite and it has triggered changes to policies to improve the patient experience. More importantly, our Marketing, Quality and Family Services teams have integrated engagement with the Family Voice in their 2014 performance goals.

Family Mentor Program

  • We identified that many of the service lines were creating programs to partner family members of newly diagnosed patients with families who had been living with the diagnosis for a while. Brought together three of the groups, (Cystic Fibrosis, Neonatology and Cardiac) to develop a standardized approach and training program.
  • We recruited staff liaisons by promoting the mentoring program with staff, and also serving as a recruiter for families that could benefit from a mentoring program.
  • The Rehab FAC was recognized by Children’s in an internal education award program for innovation in patient family.


  • We promoted the Family Voice Programs on the Children’s intranet, including Family Advisory Council parent photos.
  • We spoke at clinical and leadership meetings programs to create awareness and excitement about the program.
  • We recruited system nursing and clinical committees to recruit families by giving them criteria for a successful parent participant.
  • Family Advisory Council application was placed on external website.
  • In 2014, a formal Annual Report will be presented to Children’s Executive team.


  • Engagement of the Family Advisory Council with the Billing department resulted in changes to billing forms and language to increase readability, soften the tone, and make instructions easier for families to comprehend.
  • Made changes to title for Charity Care Coordinator, as the term “charity” was a loaded word for families and dissuaded participation in the program. As a result of the change of title to Financial Resources Coordinator, more families are open to participating in the program.
  • Our commitment to transparency resulted in partnering with the FAC to review changes to the Quality and Patient Safety page on the external website. Our efforts in this realm received national attention and an invitation to present to national conference for pediatric hospitals.
  • We have trained 56 mentors and this year two of the previous mentorees have applied to participate in the program as mentors themselves.
  • The Family Advisory Council played a critical role in thinking through the strategy to roll out a patient portal, MyChart, to meet patient family needs and to incorporate their experience into the messaging and implementation process.