Healthcare News & Insights

Patient engagement: Nurses critical to patient-centered care practices

Doctors are an integral part of the team, no doubt about it. But your nurses are the ones that can make or break a good hospital experience that leads to positive outcomes.

115768353Reason: Patients rely on their nurses to be their advocates. They’re the healthcare professionals patients see most often, and the people who can communicate most readily with their doctors. That’s why they’re essential to patient engagement, which is critical for getting patients better faster and keeping them from being readmitted.

It’s also why the Nursing Alliance for Quality Care (NAQC) created a strategic plan to transform patient engagement and make nursing’s role even more critical in patient care.

Successful strategies

The NAQC is aware that patients see nurses as their safety nets — the people strong enough to speak up when something in patient care isn’t right, such as a medication that might be not be in the patient’s best interest. But often things get in the way and prevent nurses from being strong patient advocates.

These six strategies offer specific areas of opportunity essential to nurses in enhancing patient engagement:

  1. Ensuring all nursing education emphasizes patient engagement
  2. Amplifying the professional standing of nurses as champions of patient engagement
  3. Strengthening support for nurses as advocates in the care environment of patients
  4. Aligning incentives to encourage patient engagement
  5. Enforcing regulatory expectations and standards that support patient engagement principles in practice, and
  6. Intensifying efforts to conduct and disseminate research on patient engagement.

These strategies are detailed in the paper “Fostering Successful Patient and Family Engagement: Nursing’s Critical Role.”

Patient engagement

To foster individual patient engagement, nurses must fully embrace and practice a patient-centered approach to health care delivery. For years patients and their families have been trying to speak up and make themselves heard, but often their cries fall on deaf ears.

Nurses who believe in and practice patient-centered care see patients and their families as competent, fully engaged participants, who are able to make informed decisions about their own health care. These nurses support patients whenever they encounter obstacles in the healthcare system.

This often requires nurses to change their own behaviors. And when they do, they can easily influence the behaviors of other healthcare professionals.

So while nurses always have had an important and critical role in patient care, in order to start meeting the demands of healthcare reform, they’ll have to become even more focused on patients and their families as the center of the healthcare industry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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