Q&A with Lisa Plummer and Kayla Renals

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Photo of Lisa Plummer and Kayla Renals, CMS
Lisa Plummer (l.) and Kayla Renals (r.), CMS

Lisa Plummer, RN, is co-lead of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ Person & Family Engagement Affinity Group and acting special assistant to the Quality Improvement and Innovation Group (QIIG) in the Center for Clinical Standards and Quality (CCSQ). Prior to assuming her current role, she served as a project officer for the Transforming Clinical Practices Initiative (TCPI). Plummer received her bachelor of science in nursing at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and masters in community and public health nursing from the University of Maryland. She practiced as a neuroscience nurse in the hospital setting prior to her transition to health care policy. 

Kayla Renals, MPA is co-lead of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Person & Family Engagement Affinity Group and acting special assistant to the Center for Clinical Standards and Quality (CCSQ). Before assuming this role, she served as a special assistant to the Quality Improvement Innovation Group (QIIG) within CCSQ. Renals received her masters of public administration from Villanova University, and her bachelor of arts in English writing from Marist College.

Q. How has the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' (CMS) Person & Family Engagement (PFE) Strategy evolved in its second year?

After the PFE Strategy was rolled out at the 2016 CMS Quality Conference, we put forth a lot of effort in disseminating the strategy to our federal partners, Quality Networks and other stakeholders, encouraging them to take action and incorporate the principles of the strategy in their work practices. Part of our rollout strategy was to ensure that stakeholders knew about our framework and how we talk about person and family engagement across CMS. 

Our primary goal now is to operationalize the strategy, which includes harvesting best practices across the health care community, especially in our Quality Networks, and sharing those success stories and tools across CMS. The CMS PFE Affinity Group, which we co-lead, is often at the center of this work, as our membership involves staff members from components throughout the agency. 

Q. What are your priorities for PFE in the coming year?

As part of our effort to organize tangible activities and make contributions to PFE at CMS, we have recently started hosting learning events, including CMS PFE Affinity Group-sponsored “Lunch and Learns.” We invite members of the patient, family and caregiver community to come and have a lightly-structured lunch discussion with interested CMS staff so that everyone can learn about people’s perspectives, experiences and the real-world effects of the policy work CMS staff engage in authoring and executing. 

For example, the CMS PFE Affinity Group held a kidney health Lunch and Learn this past spring and hosted several patients and family members to discuss their experiences and values as persons living with kidney disease. Attendees were asked to share important ways in which care for patients with kidney disease could be more person-centered and ways in which CMS can better engage patients and families to ensure their voices are heard in larger policy discussions.

Another priority for the CMS PFE Affinity Group is assisting with the annual CMS Quality Conference, where we are proud to help host a large number of patient, family, advocate and caregiver attendees to have meaningful engagement with CMS staff, our contractors and our stakeholders. We already have work underway for the conference in 2019!

The third area of our work is focused on the early stages of co-designing and implementing a plan of action that will more centrally involve beneficiaries in agency efforts toward person-centered care delivery and better health outcomes. More to come on that—it is currently in the very early stages. 

Q. Do you have any examples of how you have incorporated PFE successes at the local or state level into the national strategy?

We continue to learn from our various stakeholders, including our Quality Innovation Network-Quality Improvement Organizations (QIN-QIOs) and Beneficiary and Family Centered Care-QIOs, about ways in which they partner with patients and families in co-designing innovative solutions to health care problems. 

For example, many networks have very active Patient and Family Advisory Councils informing their work at the practice, hospital and community levels. It’s been really exciting to see—and sometimes be a part of—this progress on a national scale. 

Q. Anything else you’d like QIO News readers to know?

We are interested in gathering a list of people, patients, family members and caregivers who may be interested in learning about CMS’ own journey to becoming more person-centered. We are, again, in the early stages of this plan, but if you are interested in learning more, please feel free to email us at Lisa.Plummer@cms.hhs.gov and Kayla.Renals@cms.hhs.gov for more information. Please note that your communication would serve as permission to “opt-in” to future updates from the CMS PFE Affinity Group.