Published 11/1/2008
Carolyn Rogers

A “reality check” from the patient’s perspective

The AAOS Patient Advisory Board

When an AAOS committee needs feedback about a new project for orthopaedic surgeons, an honest critique is never more than a phone call, e-mail, board meeting, or focus group away.

But the Academy is also responsible for a growing number of programs directed at orthopaedic patients—a group whose opinions aren’t as easy to ascertain.

The solution?

The AAOS Patient Advisory Board.

Providing an “immediate read”
Last fall, the Academy created the Patient Advisory Board to serve as a resource and a “sounding board” for a variety of AAOS patient-centered initiatives. The advisory board reviews patient-focused programs during their developmental stages and gives the Academy a quick “reality check” from the patient’s perspective.

“The AAOS Patient Advisory Board serves a critical need for committees and boards within the AAOS to get an ‘immediate read’ from a diverse group of patients on issues important to the Academy,” explains Zachary Wilhoit, MS, MBA, chair of the Patient Advisory Board and lay member of the AAOS Board of Directors. “We have already provided feedback on ways to improve several new AAOS products and programs.”

Most recently, the board shared its insights and suggestions concerning a new series of patient education brochures.

“We’re putting out 17 new brochures in an updated format,” explains Frances A. Farley, MD, chair of the Patient Education Committee. “It really helped to have their input while the brochures were still in the early stages of development.”

The advisory board also gave feedback on the prototype of the new YOC “Informed Patient” modules, developed by the Patient Education and Medical Liability Committees. The modules will soon be available on the Academy’s popular patient education Web site, Your Orthopaedic Connection (YOC) (www.orthoinfo.org).

The board’s other duties include reviewing new and updated content on YOC to ensure that it meets patients’ needs and expectations and assisting the government relations department with patient recruitment for AAOS Research Capitol Hill Days.

In addition, the Public Relations Oversight Group calls on Patient Advisory Board members to gauge their reactions to AAOS public service announcements and other communication vehicles designed to reach patients.

Identifying interested patients
To assemble a diverse group of orthopaedic patients to serve on the board, the Academy put out a “call for members” via its Web site in early 2007. AAOS also reached out to the membership at large, asking orthopaedists to “nominate” patients who are good communicators and would like to be involved in the Academy.

About half of the eight-member advisory board came from a direct referral from a practicing orthopaedic surgeon; others had been involved with the Academy previously, through programs such as Capitol Hill Days.

Members range widely in age and region of the country, and come with a broad variety of experiences with orthopaedics. Although each member has a unique perspective on the field, the important thing is that “they are all interested in helping improve the patient experience,” Mr. Wilhoit says.

Patient Advisory Board members include Mr. Wilhoit, of Ridgewood, N.J.; Jinsie S. Bingham of Greencastle, Ind.; Lynn Carson of Wantage, N.J.; Stuart R. Engs of Reno, Nev.; Craig Q. King of Manning, S.C.; I. Carmen Quintana of Chicago; Teresa M. Schroeder of Orlando, Fla.; and Pamela S. Schroeder of Hawthorn Woods, Ill.

The board members gathered for the first time at the 2008 Annual Meeting in San Francisco, where they met the chairs and editors of various patient-centered projects and programs, and acquainted themselves with AAOS operations and activities. Throughout the year, the board participates in conference calls and works as a team on special projects.

“Over the coming years we hope to continue to be a resource to help AAOS members better serve patients, and to advocate and support an expanding group of AAOS stakeholders,” says Mr. Wilhoit.

Carolyn Rogers is a staff writer for AAOS Now. She can be reached at rogers@aaos.org