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A Blueprint for Patient Advisory Boards


The San Francisco General Hospital (SFGH) Family Health Center has developed a handbook, Starting and Sustaining a Patient Advisory Board, that draws on the center’s use of patient advisory boards to improve the patient experience and build partnerships between providers and patients and their families.

The following are key takeaways from the 36-page handbook:

  • Target adviser recruitment — Solicit referrals from providers and other clinical staff by communicating the specific, desired qualities you want in a patient adviser.
  • Make recruitment an ongoing process — Expect turnover as family commitments and other conflicts lead to attrition.
  • Offer flexibility — Ask advisory board members to commit to their role, but allow flexibility, such as board terms shorter than a year.
  • Support your patient advisers — Maintain staff or volunteer liaisons to help manage the advisory board’s work.
  • Plan regular meetings — Create opportunities for board members to develop a sense of belonging and promote bonding with other advisers.
  • Sustain engagement with incentives — Offer gift cards or other rewards for board participation. Also, recognize advisers’ contributions with certificates and communications that showcase their work.

Does your hospital use patient advisory boards to improve care? Share your experiences and recommendations below.


About the Author

Graziano is senior director of communications for America's Essential Hospitals.

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