January 10, 2024

‘You don’t know unless you ask them’

Kaiser Permanente’s Patient Advisory Councils help us create exceptional experiences by letting patients review upcoming care initiatives.

Jerilyn Crain is just 1 of over 170 patient advisors providing recommendations on behalf of Kaiser Permanente patients.

In 2002, Jerilyn Crain’s life turned upside down when she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer. 

“From the beginning, I looked for patient support groups. But there was nothing out there. So, I started one,” said Crain.

She held her support group on a bus that took cancer patients from Kaiser Permanente Bellflower Medical Offices to Los Angeles Medical Center for radiation treatment. The patients had parties on the bus and celebrated each person’s “graduation” from cancer treatment. After Crain’s own graduation, she continued hosting the support group at her home. Her care team even sent cancer patients to her.

Becoming a patient advisor

Then, in 2007, care teams at Bellflower and Downey medical centers joined forces with patients to create Kaiser Permanente Southern California’s first Patient Advisory Council. Crain’s doctor recommended her for a position as a patient advisor.

Coming from a family of health care professionals, it was a perfect fit for Crain, who happily reviews upcoming initiatives and provides recommendations on behalf of her loved ones who are Kaiser Permanente members.

“My whole life has been about acknowledging, supporting, informing, encouraging, praying for, and listening to the voice of the patient,” said Crain. 

Giving our patients a voice

The Patient Advisory Councils have been a resounding success. Kaiser Permanente Southern California now has 23 Patient Advisory Councils, including 9 specialty councils focused on specific topics such as behavioral health and neonatal care. Recent accomplishments include:

  • Standardizing our caller ID to display “Kaiser Permanente” when clinicians or staff call members
  • Providing feedback on a pilot focused on decreasing the number of patients who leave San Bernardino emergency departments without seeing a health care professional
  • Supporting the initiative to reduce member voluntary termination at Panorama City Medical Center by providing recommendations to the Member and Grievances Committee and Medicare 5-Star Committee 

These changes and more are helping us create exceptional experiences every day for our members.

Responding to our communities' needs

La Shawna Williams, MD, physician leader for the Regional Patient Advisory Council, points out that the councils help us fulfill our commitment to providing culturally responsive, equitable care.

“Our members all come from different backgrounds, with needs as diverse as they are. But you don’t know what those needs are unless you ask them. That’s why it’s so important that we hear directly from a diverse set of patients,” said Dr. Williams.  

Linda Fahey, administrative lead for the Regional Patient Advisory Council, says the councils help Kaiser Permanente create exceptional experiences for members.

“It’s the little things that affect our members’ opinion of us. By listening to our patient advisors, we’ve been able to make changes that take our members’ experience from good to great,” said Fahey.