Reviewed by: Susanne Lemire
When treating patients, working alongside them to keep everyone involved in healthcare decisions is important to the overall health and wellbeing of patients.
As a patient, being involved in the decision–making of your care alongside the support of your family and physicians can prove to be beneficial for your physical and emotional health.
What is Patient Engagement?
Patient engagement is often defined as the partnership between patients, their families, and their healthcare representatives.
In healthcare specifically, patient engagement occurs when patients are actively learning about their treatment options so they can be informed when making decisions related to their health. The key to a good patient engagement strategy is making an active effort to encourage teamwork between every party. Work alongside your care team and family to ensure you are involved and making all of the best decisions.
Strategies to improve patient engagement:
- Educate patients about their healthcare: as a clinician, it is safe to assume that patients need a better understanding of a diagnosis or plan of action. Receiving a diagnosis or spending time in a hospital can be a very stressful time in someone’s life. Communicate with patients and their families in a way that makes it easy for them to understand. Engaging patients helps open up the line of communication between clinician and patient and improves health literacy which allows for patients to make more informed health decisions, resulting in improved outcomes. Therapeutic communication is important in helping build trust between patients and care providers.
- Allow patients to be active participants in decision-making. The success of any care plan improves when a healthcare professional can empower patients to make their own decisions or, at the very least, be a part of the process. Ensuring that all of the information is shareable makes it easier for patients and their families to get involved.
- Use images and charts when necessary: Simplify the language and use images when appropriate. 9 times out of 10 patients did not go to medical school, and presenting the information in a way that will be easy for everyone to understand will help with overall understanding and engagement.
Why is Patient Engagement Important?
Patient engagement involves encouraging patients to be involved in making decisions around their health. Oftentimes individuals would rather work in conjunction with their trusted healthcare provider to come up with the best course of action.
Studies have shown that patients who are more engaged with their care team tend to be healthier and experience better health outcomes. In addition to this, there are several other reasons why this is so important:
- Improving the patient-provider relationship will also improve overall patient retention and your clinics’ bottom line.
- Care is improved, and the number of patient visits to the ER is reduced when healthcare providers help their patients become active participants in their health so that they learn and understand more about their bodies.
- It is easier for physicians to treat patients in a timely and cost-effective manner with engaged patients.
- Meaningful patient engagement is vital to patient participation. An appointment reminder won’t cut it. A patient who is actively involved in their treatment is less likely to miss appointments which means fewer revenue losses and improved maintenance of your patient base.
As a nurse, you are the friend and primary caregiver to patients during their hospital stay. You can also act as the bridge that connects the patient and the physician. As a nurse or nursing assistant, patient advocacy is key, and as someone who is on the frontline of patient care, you are in the perfect position to promote engagement. Advocacy means inviting input and participation from both the family and the patient. This will include providing education, sharing in the decision-making, and minimizing barriers to care. Engagement starts by laying the foundation for an open line of communication, and as a nurse, that is the perfect place to start!
Patient engagement goes far beyond just explaining the procedure. As a healthcare provider, it is not only important to keep patients engaged for their health but also for the health of your practice. Ensuring that patients are coming to appointments and are as dedicated to their care plan as the physician is, we can see better outcomes.
MAS Medical Staffing understands the importance of creating a team-like mentality when discussing patient care which helps with patient satisfaction and your bottom line. If you are working with patients, be sure to adopt a method that encourages patient and family engagement.
Suzanne Lemire, Quality Assurance Specialist – Suzanne has been with the company for a year and a half and graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a degree in Health Management and Policy. She spends her free time playing sports, cooking, reading, and attending as many Bruins games as possible. Recently she has started learning to play the Piano and is enjoying working on a new skill.