Engaging with Patients and Families

Healthcare professionals have a duty to engage with patients and families. This means that they need to be open and communicative, listening to what the patient or family has to say. 

It also means that healthcare professionals need to be respectful of the patient’s or family’s feelings and beliefs. 

By engaging with patients and families in this way, healthcare professionals can ensure that everyone is on the same page and that everyone is working towards the same goal: providing quality and safe care for the patient.

These 4 basic strategies for patient and family engagement should help as a primer:

  1. Encourage patients and family members to participate as advisors.
  2. Promote better communication among patients, family members, and health care professionals from the point of admission.
  3. Implement safe continuity of care by keeping the patient and family informed through nurse bedside change-of-shift reports.
  4. Engage patients and families in discharge planning throughout the hospital stay.

Healthcare organisations from the patient perspective

Most patients view their healthcare organisation from a very personal perspective. They see the hospital as a place where they go to get better, or as a place where they can find mental health support during difficult times. 

Patients often feel that the hospital is their best hope for getting better and they put a lot of trust in the staff at the hospital. This trust can be broken if patients feel that they are not being listened to or that their concerns are not being taken seriously.

It is important for healthcare organisations to remember that patients are the customers of the healthcare system and that they should be treated as such. Patients should feel like they are able to give feedback about their experiences and that this feedback will be used to improve the quality of care.

There are a number of ways in which healthcare organisations can engage with patients and families. One way is to encourage patients and family members to participate in quality improvement initiatives. 

Quality improvement initiatives are designed to identify problems with the delivery of care and to find ways to improve the quality of care. Patients and family members can provide valuable insights into the delivery of care and can help to identify areas where improvements can be made.

Patient and family engagement

Communication with patients’ families is important because it allows healthcare professionals to get a better understanding of the patient’s situation and it allows them to communicate with the family about the patient’s care. 

By communicating with the family, healthcare professionals can ensure that everyone is on the same page and that the family understands what is happening with the patient. 

Families can also provide valuable insights into the patient’s care and they can help to identify problems with the delivery of care. Overall this helps to promote better communication among patients, family members, and health care professionals.

Engaging patients for patient satisfaction

One of the benefits of engaging with patients is that it can increase their satisfaction with the care that they receive. When patients feel like they are being listened to and that their concerns are being taken seriously, they are more likely to be satisfied with the care that they receive. 

When patients and families are engaged in their care, they feel like they are part of the team and that they are working together to provide quality care for the patient. 

This collaboration allows patients and families to have a sense of control over their care.

Employing patient preferences

There are a number of ways in which healthcare organisations can employ patient preferences. 

The obvious and simple first step is to ask patients what their preferences are. 

This can be done by asking patients to complete a questionnaire or by asking them to share their preferences during a meeting with the healthcare team. Healthcare organisations can also ask family members if there is anything they should be aware of during a patient’s stay.

Another way to employ patient preferences is to allow patients to have a clear route to managing their own care. This involves giving patients ample opportunity to make decisions about their care in a way that takes into account education, capacity and other potentially influencing factors. 

Depending on the country, patients can be given the opportunity to choose their own doctor, choose their own treatment plan, and choose where they would like to receive care.

Healthcare organisations can also employ patient preferences by providing education and support to patients and families. This includes educating patients about their condition and providing them with information about the treatments that are available. 

It also includes providing support to patients and families so that they can better understand the care that the patient is receiving.

Finally, healthcare organisations can employ patient preferences by listening to patients and family members as treatment evolves over time. This requires taking the time to listen at appropriate intervals during care, understanding and responding to their concerns. In this way you can work collaboratively to provide quality care for the patient.

Patient engagement strategies

Some patient engagement strategies that healthcare organisations can use include:

  • Asking patients what their preferences are prior to admission via app or letter
  • Allowing patients to have a say in their care whilst on the ward via nursing staff or written request
  • Employing patient preferences in a way that ensures delivery to all clinicians involved in their care
  • Providing education and support to patients and families both through informal in-hospital schemes and more directed chronic patient management

Patient engagement for management of chronic conditions

Chronic conditions account for a large majority of healthcare costs in developed nations. Managing these conditions can be difficult, but with patient engagement, it can be done more effectively and at a lower cost. 

There are three main ways to employ patient engagement for chronic disease management: preventing and detecting the condition, managing the condition with the clinician, and managing the condition through self-management. 

Preventing and detecting the condition: To prevent a chronic disease from developing, it is important to engage in healthy behaviours and see a healthcare provider regularly. This way, risk factors can be identified early and intervention can begin before the condition progresses. 

For patients who already have a chronic condition, engagement is key to detecting potential problems early so that they can be managed before they become more serious.

Managing the condition with the provider: Once a chronic condition has been diagnosed, it is important to work closely with a healthcare provider to develop a treatment plan. This plan should be tailored to the individual patient and their unique needs. 

Patients who are engaged in their care are more likely to follow treatment plans and take their medications as prescribed. They are also more likely to have open communication with their providers, which can lead to better management of the condition.

Managing the condition through self-management: In addition to working with a healthcare provider, patients also need to take an active role in managing their chronic condition. 

This includes monitoring their symptoms, keeping track of their medications, and making lifestyle changes to improve their health. 

Patients who are engaged in their own care are more likely to stick to their treatment plan and have better health outcomes.

Risk factors in patient self management

Self-management is a set of approaches which help people with long-term conditions take control of their treatment.

It involves finding out more about your condition, learning new skills to help you manage your health, working in partnership with your doctor or wider team, and choosing what is right for you. 

Self-management can empower people with long-term conditions to take control of their treatment and improve their quality of life. However, there are some risk factors associated with patient self management which healthcare professionals should be aware of.

Some risk factors in patient self management include:

  •  Not having enough information about their condition
  •  Not being able to manage their own health effectively
  •  Having unrealistic expectations about what self-management can achieve
  •  Receiving conflicting information from different sources
  •  Feeling overwhelmed and stressed
  • Forgetting aspects over time

Some tools that patients can use for self management include:

  •  Accepting their diagnosis to bolster compliance
  •  Building a team of support
  •  Setting goals for their treatments
  •  Exercise
  •  Receiving education and support from healthcare professionals

Common patient perspectives: What patients want

Patients want healthcare organisations to provide time appropriate access to care, competence, empathy and being taken seriously by HCPs, and individual consideration of each patient’s situation. 

They also want healthcare organisations to take a holistic perspective of the patient, communicate with patients in a patient-centred way, and integrate multidisciplinary treatment elements. 

Patients want healthcare organisations to hold up the ideals of healthcare. Everything from being transparent regarding an individual’s waiting time to regional schemes to reduce unequal access to care. Finally, patients want healthcare organisations to listen to them and family members in a way that conveys empathy but also sincere listening, i.e. being taken seriously.

How can technology improve patient engagement?

Chronic conditions are a leading cause of death and disability gloabally, accounting for more than 90% of all healthcare costs. Patients with chronic conditions account for approximately 66% of all outpatient visits and half of all hospitalisations

The traditional model of care is not working. Patients are not engaged in their own care and as a result, their conditions worsen, requiring more expensive and invasive interventions

Technology has the potential to improve patient engagement and as a result, improve outcomes for patients with chronic conditions. Interpersonal strategies must be used in conjunction with technology to ensure that patients are able to properly manage their conditions.

Some examples of technology that can help with patient engagement include:

  • Patient portals: Patients can access their health information through a patient portal, which allows them to track their health data and communicate with their provider.
  • Remote monitoring: Patients can use remote monitoring devices to track their blood pressure, heart rate, and other vital signs. This allows providers to monitor patients remotely and intervene earlier if there is a problem.
  • Smartphones and apps: There are a number of smartphone apps that can help patients track their health data, medication adherence, and symptoms.

Individual patient preferences of health behaviours

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to engaging patients in the management of their chronic conditions. What works for one patient may not work for another. Providers need to employ a variety of strategies and technologies in order to engage all patients.

Patients have different preferences when it comes to how they want to be engaged in their care. Some patients prefer interpersonal strategies, while others prefer technology. It is important for providers to understand these preferences and use the appropriate strategies and technologies to engage each patient.

What is ‘shared decision making’ in healthcare?

Shared decision making (SDM) is a collaborative process that allows patients and providers to make decisions together about the best course of treatment for the patient.

 It involves patients having all the relevant information about their conditions and treatments, so they can make an informed decision. SDM improves patient outcomes by ensuring that patients are involved in their own care and are able to make decisions that reflect their preferences and values.

Technology can help with SDM by providing patients with information about their condition and treatment options. Patients can also use decision aids, which are tools that help patients understand the risks and benefits of different treatment options.

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