Patient & Family Involvement at UW Medical Center

Patient and family centered care

At UW Medical Center, we recognize the important role that patients and families play in healthcare. As we care for patients, we honor the strengths, priorities and preferences of each patient and family and involve them in medical decisions, every step of the way. One of the ways we do this is by offering relevant and timely information to our patients, such as treatment plans and test results. UW Medical Center puts patients first by embracing six concepts – information sharing, partnership and strengths, communication, choices and respect.

We continually evaluate how we deliver care and seek ways to improve. To do that, we ask our patients and families for their input in several ways, including patient satisfaction surveys and patient advisory councils. Advisory councils, made up of patients, families and staff members, tell us about their experiences at UW Medical Center and collaborate with staff to make improvements.

These councils provide valuable feedback about patient and family experiences in these areas: inpatient, intensive care, outpatient, neonatal intensive care, pregnancy and childbirth, rehabilitation services and transplant.

The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), for example, demonstrates patient and family centered care in which the healthcare team and parents partner to help babies get well. We can treat a baby’s physical problems, but the healthcare team cannot nurture a baby in the same way parents can. The bonds babies form with their parents help them heal faster and grow stronger. Based on parent suggestions, the staff increased communication, such as including parents in daily consultations.

Understanding, respecting and involving patients in their own care is central to what we do at UW Medical Center. By encouraging a partnership between the healthcare team and patients and families, we ensure that each patient’s unique preferences and needs are considered.

Patients and family as advisors

Advisors are patient and family volunteers who work with UWMC care providers and staff to improve the healthcare experience for everyone. This partnership fosters the philosophy of patient and family centered care that is central to our services at UWMC.

As part of a continuing process to include patients and families in everything from creating guidebooks to interviewing residents, UWMC has seven advisory councils. These councils cover inpatient, intensive care, neonatal intensive care, outpatient, pregnancy and childbirth, rehabilitation services and transplant units.

Any patient who has recently received or is currently receiving care at UW Medical Center may serve as an advisor. Advisors should be willing to volunteer two or more hours per month. 

Family members also may be advisors if their loved ones have recently received or are currently receiving care at the medical center.

Patient and family advisors:

  • Share insights and experiences in productive ways
  • See beyond their own personal experiences
  • Respect diversity and differing opinions
  • Are good listeners
  • Collaborate on solutions
  • Are passionate about enhancing the health care experience

Patient and family advisors help improve the care experience in several ways: 

Council membership: Advisors work in partnership with staff, nurses and doctors in the specific care areas where they have received care. 

E-Advisors: By email, advisors give their opinion about hospital policies, practices and health education materials. This advisory role is ideal for those who want to do their volunteer work at home. 

Program/policy review: Advisors design, implement and evaluate healthcare programs and policies that help ensure the best possible care for patients and their families. 

Committee membership: Advisors serve on committees and take active roles in helping with guidelines and processes, examples include: patient safety and patient and family education.

Teaching: Advisors teach staff and professionals-in-training, helping them learn directly from patients and families about the care experience. 

Discussion groups: Advisors participate in one-time discussion groups focused on a particular department or service. Examples include creating a healing environment, assisting with facilities design and creating a more ideal check-in system for patients in the Surgery Pavilion.

Patient and Family Education Services



1959 N.E. Pacific St. 
Box 359420
Seattle, WA 98195-8420 

Monday through Friday: 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.