Consumer Advisory Council Welcomes First-ever Patient Co-Chair

As a child, Mike Chilcoat’s parents gave him the same instructions that many parents do: You can address adults by their first names, except dentists and doctors. They command formal titles.

While children should respect all of the adults in their lives, it elevated the roles of these medical professionals to nearly “god-like” status for Mike, as it does for many. He carried this thinking into adulthood, and oftentimes didn’t want to ask too many questions or even take a proactive approach in his own health.

But then, Mike’s diabetes intensified.

“I had high blood pressure, high LDL and gained weight. I was unable to control my diet and my numbers,” he said.
Desperate to turn things around, he joined his practice’s Patient Partner Program in 2011 and was “awestruck” with the respect and interest he was shown by leaders in medicine.

“I remember thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, they are asking me questions! They want to know what I think!’ It was an a-ha moment for me,” he said.

As a Patient Partner, Mike has assisted with, and witnessed, many changes made by the practice including the implementation of the Brown Bag concept for medications; addition of new blood test kits in each exam room; and providing patients a complete and thorough explanation of their visit. He’s also been an integral part of growing the program from 12 Patient Partners to 60 Patient Partners in just four years.

Beyond his patient peers, his leadership and determination to improve the system was recognized by leaders within Aligning Forces for Quality – South Central PA (AF4Q-SCPA), and in October of 2013 they asked him to begin serving as co-chair of the Consumer Advisory Council.

The Council’s vision is to represent the voice of consumers in health care by developing and championing changes needed to increase health care value for patients. It is directed by leaders involved in widespread channels of medicine, and since 2007, has guided all of AF4Q-SCPA’s work that directly affects patients including: developing the I Can! Challenge; the Patient Partner Program; the 2010 Disparities in Diabetes Care report; and many others.

“Up until this point, we’ve had a very passionate chair, Jenny Englerth, president of Family First Health, who has done tremendous work on the Consumer Advisory Council as a leader of a provider organization.” said Chris Amy, project director of AF4Q-SCPA. “While she’s not a doctor or nurse, both Jenny and AF4Q-SCPA felt that a true consumer, or patient, was needed as the next step for the Council.  Mike’s dedication and experience as a Patient Partner made him an ideal person to step into this leadership role, and we’re excited to have him!”

Eager to continue advocating for patients, Mike has already outlined a few goals for the Council.

“I love what I’m doing,” he said. “A patient shouldn’t feel like an outsider, the patient is the number one person in his or her care.”

Mike also wants to educate patients on the challenges that physicians face, especially as it relates to time management.  While patients often complain that their doctors are running late, Mike now knows that many are simply spending more time with patients to give them better care.

“I want everyone to know that we are all in this together, and we need to work towards the same goals,” he said. “It’s like a snowball headed for health.”

Congrats, Mike!  We’re excited to have you join us.

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