Bonnie Bizzell has been passionate about patient involvement in healthcare for a long time. She joined the University of Washington Medical Center Inpatient Patient and Family Advisory Council in 2007, after having care experiences with multiple family members that ranged broadly in terms of paying attention to and including patient and family needs in the care being delivered. This work led her to joining Seattle-based Foundation for Health Care Quality’s HealthPact initiative that focuses on transforming communication in. (Hear Bonnie speak about what led her to get involved as a patient and family advisor at 4:45 in this video.)
Recently, Bonnie joined CERTAIN’s CODA project to study appendectomy versus “antibiotics-first” for the treatment of uncomplicated appendicitis. Of why she decided to expand her involvement from focusing on care delivery and communication to include research, Bonnie says, “Any way I could make the system better for others is a win for me personally. I added research within my mission simply because we need research to actually search for answers that directly impact the patient’s questions. Research which empowers the patient in decision-making. I’m tremendously excited to be part of the healthcare process this far upstream where the questions are created. It feels like being proactive rather than reactive.”
Bonnie is chairing the CODA Patient Advisory Group and sits on the CODA Executive Committee. Of what she hopes she and her fellow Patient Advisors will contribute over the course of CODA, she says:
“First and foremost, I hope we can be useful research partners. To do so, we need to bring honest dialogue based in thoughtful reflection. We need to actively contribute to aspects within the study where we are experts: the patient experience. That means being brave, asking uncomfortable questions, and challenging assumptions.
Second, I hope we can be a model for others, whether for research or standard care. The CODA Patient Advisory Group is unique because we are focused on an acute care issue – appendicitis. Most patient advisory groups are focused around chronic conditions but most people experience medicine in acute settings, as an immediate need or a one-off treatment. And, honestly, it’s hard to do care and caring in such an environment. There are limited opportunities for partnership. How do we represent or amplify the patient voice for those interactions? What do we learn in this process that we can be a benchmark for other areas of medicine?
Ultimately, I am an optimist. I own a convertible in Seattle, so I believe there will be sunny days. I am an optimist with CODA as well. I believe we will be able to empower patients for better decision-making, regardless of the study’s outcome.”
We look forward to sharing updates from CODA and Bonnie and the Patient Advisor team in future posts!