The O'Neil Research Center

Advancing the science of patient and family engagement

Connecting the art and science of patient engagement

The O’Neil Research Center is the industry’s “think tank” for research and advancement of patient and family engagement. It focuses on translating patient engagement theory and research into more effective health care management by:


Leveraging empirical evidence to validate the relationship between engagement of patients and their families and the resulting outcomes


Developing evidence-based tools and processes to help health care organizations drive more effective patient engagement strategies


Driving global industry thought leadership and best practices

Key milestones

Everything we do is in partnership with our clients. Click below to see some of our achievements.

  • 2014

    The O’Neil Research Center founded and named after GetWellNetwork founder and CEO Michael O’Neil, a patient and cancer survivor

  • 2015

    Published “Interactive Care Model: A Framework for More Fully Engaging People in Their Healthcare” in the Journal of Nursing Administration

  • 2016

    Published “Patient and Family Engagement Summit: Needed Changes in Clinical Practice” in a special edition of the Journal of Nursing Administration

    Published “Nurse Manager Competencies Supporting Patient Engagement” in a special edition of the Journal of Nursing Administration

  • 2017

    Completed Person Engagement Index™ (PEI) instrumentation study and officially launched instrument at The Beryl Institute’s annual Patient Experience Conference in Denver, Colo.


The O'Neil Resarch Center Leadership

Dr. Karen Drenkard

Dr. Karen Drenkard is the SVP/chief clinical officer and chief nurse of The O’Neil Research Center. She was the lead investigator in the development of the Interactive Care Model™—a process model for more effectively engaging patients and families—and participated in the development of the Person Engagement Index™.

Dr. Ellen Swartwout

Dr. Ellen Swartwout is VP of research & analytics at The O’Neil Research Center and spearheads all of its multi-site research initiatives. Her efforts include focusing on the voice of the patient in research activities to advance the science of person and family engagement interventions. Dr. Swartwout was also the principal investigator behind the Person Engagement Index™.

Clinical Advisory Council

The Clinical Advisory Council is an important component in the work of The O’Neil Center. The council develops standards, models, tools and research needs around patient engagement in an effort to advance the science of patient and family engagement. The Council is comprised of clinicians, nurses, physicians, pharmacists, nurse researchers and academics from the nation’s leading healthcare organizations and universities. Learn about our council members.

The Role of Nurse Executives in Patient Experience

A new paper produced by The Beryl Institute in conjunction with its Nurse Executive Council explores the role of nurse leadership and the impact and influence Nurse Executives can have in leading the fundamental practices and actions which drive experience success. Please use the following code to access a complimentary copy of the paper when checking out: 2019NURSEEXEC

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