Taking Charge: Engaging Patients as Full Partners

Tuesday, 10 November 2015: 8:50 AM

Mary Walton, MSN, MSE, RN
Nursing, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA

A growing body of evidence demonstrates that improving the patient experience and developing partnerships with patients/families correlates with improved health outcomes. Patients who are more involved in their care are better able to: manage complex chronic conditions, seek appropriate assistance, have reduced lengths of stay, avoid readmissions and emergency department visits, and experience increased satisfaction.  To achieve this, health care professionals need to engage patients and families in partnered relationships, and equip them with the relevant information, resources, access and support to fully engage in and/or direct their health care experience. This includes a focus on health literacy and educating people as to how they may become more active.  Through the provision of tools, strategies, and support, people become informed and engaged healthcare consumers who are confident in their ability to make a positive impact on their own and their family members’ healthcare quality and safety.

When people understand their role in the care process and have the know-how, skills and confidence to manage their healthcare, patient activation also means helping people to move from a traditional model of believing the clinician knows best toward willingly playing an active role in their care. Clinicians need to be adept at assessing patient-engagement levels and the interventions to increase patient participation in their care processes 

To achieve this level of functioning, leaders and frontline clinicians must partner with consumers and other health professionals to intentionally lead the necessary culture shift by integrating the person and family voice into not only direct care, but also all improvement efforts, leadership committees, and newly designed programs. For nurses this means moving from the traditional “providing care” and “doing to” to a shared decision-making model where they partner with people so they can assume more responsibility for their care and health status.

Part of symposium submitted.