Patient-centered care is the expectation for every health care facility. A true patient-centered approach to health care engages patients in their experience by valuing their input and individuality.
Health care workers who are patient-centered seek out treatment plans that emphasize quality of actions over quantity, and their efforts lead to effective outcomes — lasting treatment, reduced readmissions, and informed, happier patients.
Because patients’ perception is heavily tied to the success of a health care organization, like a hospital, it’s important to get patient-centered care right. Here are some ways your facility can prioritize and improve patient care for the benefit of patients, their families, and the entire health care organization.
1. Invest in State-of-the-Art Technology and Equipment
Health care workers have to make a lot of decisions about patient care, and they have to make them quickly. This constant pressure means it’s extremely important for a facility to have up-to-date tools for diagnosis and record-keeping.
False diagnoses, round-about procedures, and disorganized information are not only ineffective, they’re dangerous and can even be deadly. Having the right equipment for patients’ needs now — and any need that you anticipate for the future — will bring your facility recognition and patient trust.
For example, the large-scale effects of COVID-19 have made telehealth a prominent feature of many organization’s patient interactions. Those facilities that already had HIPAA-compliant platforms for virtual patient care had relatively smooth transitions.
Others that grappled with a way to develop and manage that setup found their patient satisfaction levels tested. To make sure your facility is vested in its patients, your facility needs to invest in its resources.
2. Prioritize Transparency and Efficiency in Communication
Because patient-centered care makes each patient an active and valued voice in their own treatment plan, it’s critical that health care professionals have empathetic, clear communication skills.
When communicating with patients, health care workers should express both the science and the experience of treatment in a simplistic way that doesn’t condescend or make assumptions.
Using the right language at the right time comes from listening and having conversations with patients to find out their level of understanding and any questions. With good communication, expectations for patients’ conditions are explicit, and patients are more likely to follow advice and make educated decisions about their health in the future.
Between staff members, effective communication skills help the whole health care team be more efficient. There’s a lower chance of error, misdiagnosis, or gaps in information.
The care of any patient is a team effort, and all people involved need to practice active listening, addressing questions, and detailed record-keeping to be successful.
3. Ensure All Staff Are Focused on Patient-Centered Care
Patient-centered care involves all workers at a facility from the check-in desk to the laboratory. While patient-facing time may be brief for some, a staff member’s understanding of the facility’s approach to patient care has an effect on how they perform their duties and how patients feel about their experiences.
To make sure the best patient care is truly a team effort, a facility should have a defined, working definition of patient care that all workers should know. It can be part of a mission statement or employee guide.
That definition should include clear guidelines for staff and measurable goals to gauge the quality of a facility’s care. Goals and guidelines should be a regular part of facility work culture that inform and celebrate staff’s efforts.
4. Work With Patient Advocates
While it’s important for the relationship between patients and health care professionals to have easy, informative communication, adding patient advocates to a medical team can improve how well staff understand patient needs and feelings.
Patient advocates can either be hospital staff or hired through another agency. They’re individuals who support patients through their treatment by listening to them, encouraging them, and promoting conversation with professionals.
Because of their guiding role, patient advocates can sometimes connect with patients in a way other members of a medical team can’t. That can lead to important insight into developing and refining a patient’s treatment plan.
Advocates help patients have a stronger voice in their care, emphasizing how important it is to know a patients’ thoughts. This helps them feel understood.
5. Promote Quality Care Thorough Documentation of Treatments and Preferences
One of the best ways to complement exceptional communication are plans and procedures for good, patient-centered documentation.
For facilities that have documentation that’s clearly outlined and organized, all staff members involved in a patient’s care can easily identify and act on their unique roles. They better understand their responsibilities and the expectations that come with them.
Good documentation also provides accountability. It ensures that what’s happening for and with a patient is in-line with a facility’s standards, and it doesn’t leave room for individual interpretations.
A patient-centered health care facility also includes patient feedback in documentation. To make sure a plan is in line with what’s best for a patient, give questionnaires to patients throughout the treatment process that focus on their symptoms, perceptions of their health, and concerns.
Working this feedback into an active patient plan makes the care your facility provides truly patient-centered, and it assists professionals in their work to educate patients about post-treatment outcomes and preventive care.
6. Have a Plan to Follow Up After Treatment
A facility’s involvement in patient care doesn’t end when the patient is discharged. To maintain outcomes or prevent future or worsening conditions, it’s sometimes necessary for patients to participate in programs in other facilities or in their own homes, like rehabilitation and physical therapy.
Facilities should continue fostering the patient relationship through follow-up appointments. During these appointments, a health care provider can revisit and evaluate the treatment plan by paying attention to the patient’s current condition and concerns. Patients can get reminders, advice, or guidance through other aspects of their health.
No matter where a treatment leads, the most important thing to leave every patient with is information. There’s no guarantee that patients will attend future or recommended appointments, so upon discharge, all facilities should give patients useful information about their condition and treatment as well as what they should expect in the future.
But a parting conversation isn’t enough. Patients who receive their follow-up information verbally and in writing are more likely to have better health outcomes. For facilities that keep patients engaged through patient portals and health-focused newsletters, patients are more likely to view their facilities in a positive light — and as a result, continue trusting those facilities for treatment.
7. Improve Patient Care With Well-Qualified, Trained Health Care Professionals
A facility’s ability to function is dependent on the quality of its staff members. Staff who are held to professional expectations and guidelines and are trained in standard protocol are better able to provide efficient and effective patient care.
Bringing motivated, patient-centered professionals to your facility will ensure that your medical team can reach its goals for patient health and bring value to your health care organization.
Is your health care team in need of quality, professional staff members? Clipboard Health offers staffing solutions for facilities who are looking to fill shifts because of unexpected vacancies, employee vacations, and hiring freezes.
With qualified nurses ready to join your team, you can make sure your facility can remain committed to improving patient care.