Michael Campbell

Q&A with Nemours' director of patient centered care

October 31, 2013
by Nancy Ryerson, Staff Writer
Nemours Children’s Hospital recently won an award from the Get Well Network, which creates interactive software to help patients become more involved in their care. Nemours earned its stripes by co-designing and implementing several new features to enhance the patient experience. Michael Campbell, director of patient and family centered care at Nemours, talked about the benefits of letting parents help hire their kids’ doctors, and other patient-centered initiatives the hospital has introduced.

DMBN: What is your health care background?
MC: My background is in behavioral health. I was a counselor working with moms and dads and kids on behavior change, managing mood disorders. Our niche is to work with kids who have chronic mental health and medical conditions, so that’s where I spent the majority of my time before I took this role.

DMBN: What does your role as director of patient- and family-centered care involve?
MC: The philosophy of patient and family centered care is rooted in the idea that when you have patients and families engaged as members of the health care team, then the work product is better from a safety perspective, and patients and families have more buy-in and more ownership of being healthy.

My programs are focused on trying to make that union as front and center as it can possibly be within NCH, and we have several different programs that do that. I get to work with the child life specialist and the social workers in the hospital. Then we have our kids program that bridges nursing and social workers that do care coordination and help families get linked up to resources. We have service excellence connected with customer experience, and then a couple of advisory councils of family members as well as the youth that are here at NCH that kind of guide us.

DMBN: Tell me about some of the initiatives that led to your excellence in interactive patient care award.
MC: I think that the beauty of the Get Well Network is that it bridges the use of technology to help families be actively engaged in care. So if you think about the philosophy of patient- and family-centered care as predicated on the idea that families are experts, if the healthcare team can give those experts the opportunity to participate in the process, then it’s the tide that rises all ships. So the Get Well Network is a tool that helps us to engage families in some of that active process.

DMBN: Have there been any challenges associated with getting families engaged?
MC: Philosophically, many families aren’t accustomed to having their [opinion] asked for [or being] expected to participate. They tend to adopt more of a passive role, and I think traditionally, that’s how medicine has been practiced, so that’s understandable.

DMBN: What other family engagement projects have you been working on?
MC: The advisory councils have been pivotal in the development of processes in the hospital. For example, we engage the family advisory counseling for interviewing, so the families are involved in selecting the doctors that will care for their children. Their focus is really on physicians’ ability to recognize and appreciate the role of families in care. We’ve trained the families to not only look for cues within the physician’s report that they’re amenable to having families involved, but also to ask for examples of when they were specifically involved with families. I think that’s what they’re looking for — how did physicians find ways to partner with parents and the children in care.

DMBN: Do you have any advice for other facilities that are interested in getting families more involved?
MC: It’s a process. On some levels, it’s about relationship building, and anyone who’s involved in a relationship knows that it’s work and it’s not perfect, but it’s not about being perfect it’s about continually finding opportunities to improve. There have been some wonderful things that have come of the invitation for families to be part, one [example] you see is in photos of Nemours Children’s Hospital at night — our hospital is all lit up in multicolor. There’s a partnership between the Get Well Network and a lighting vendor and our family advisory council about how we can empower children and families to paint their room and paint the skyline with the LED light in their room. That’s a perfect representation of partnership, and for someone who’s considering going down this road of partnership, those are the opportunities that can come from it.