Today’s patients see care teams differently than they once did. In the past, patients played more of a child-like role to their physicians and nurses. However, in today’s more patient-centered market, there has been a shift to patients wanting more information and control over their own care—they want to be a member of their own care team.
Introducing the Healthcare Consumer
We all know the patients who would rather sit uncomfortably than call their nurses to help them or the patients who don’t want to ask the doctor too many questions because they are so busy.
Today’s modern healthcare consumer is empowered. They want to take an active role in their own healthcare because they not only want to know what they are paying for, but they want to be part of the decision-making process.
The modern patient does not sit by the sidelines as members of a care team makes choices for them. Instead, they are active participants – actual members of their care teams. They are involved in:
- Care team conversations
- Treatment planning
So, how can healthcare professionals help patients feel more a part of their own care teams? Nurses and other members of the healthcare community need to readily embrace this shift in attitude and find ways to bring the patient on board. A great way to start is with the bedside shift report.
Engaging Bedside Shift Reporting
In the old days, the bedside shift report was a discussion between the off-going nurse and the oncoming nurse that took place in front of the patient—not with them.
Bedside shift reporting today takes a complete approach. The goal of the report is the same, but the information comes directly from the patient—making them part of the team. A key tactic to use here is the teach-back method, where the outgoing nurse prompts the patient to explain their care to the oncoming nurse. This puts the patient, and their family members, in the driver’s seat on issues such as pain management, treatment planning, and scheduling.
When it comes down to it, the patient is ultimately in charge, so why not work with that to empower them?
Changing Roles in Discharge Planning
The final step is to involve both the patient and family members in planning their discharge to the next level of care. Discharge planning goes into effect immediately when the patient is admitted to the hospital. Nurses should prompt the patients and family members to think ahead to when they will be going home, and to begin planning what they will need to continue their care.
This advanced planning gets them thinking ahead about the discharge process and how to prepare for it. They will begin constructing questions in their mind to ask prior to discharge, and it will give them plenty of time to gather the necessary information to take over their care.
The parent/child dynamic that once existed between a healthcare provider and patient failed in many ways. The healthcare landscape today supports more of a peer-to-peer scenario, giving each party the respect they deserve and the information they need for better outcomes. Patients are no longer sideline observers in their own health care strategies. Today, they are members of the care team and able to take an active role in their own care.