In my last post, From Hollywood to Healthcare, I introduced you to the world of coaching and how the core coaching competencies can help healthcare practitioners, especially in engaging the workforce, which in turn, engages patients. With hospital reimbursements now partially influenced by patient satisfaction scores, the focus on a patient-centered healthcare system and patient engagement is gaining more and more momentum.
In 2007, Washington became the first state to enact legislation to encourage shared decision making, in which patients and providers consider the condition, treatment options, and the patient’s preferences in order to come to a consensus on the treatment plan. Moving in this direction brings the role of a healthcare professional to a whole new level. In 2013, the Nursing Alliance for Quality Care unveiled a plan to enhance a nurse’s role in increasing patient engagement.
Here are three simple tips for engaging patients:
Ask, don’t tell. It is not just about delivering lab results and treatment options. Ask open-ended questions to engage patients and listen for a patient’s values, preferences, and needs. When Tracy Whitworth, the Survivorship Care Coordinator for Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Phoenix, became a certified professional coach, she said one of the most valuable coaching skills she attained that altered her approach with patient care was no longer presuming that she had all the answers.
“While in the past, coming up with solutions for my clients was done out of good intentions to help them, I now see my role as providing them with the appropriate information they require,” she told me. “I can then guide them with empowering questions to assist them in realizing they have the answers on what is best for them to move forward so they are thriving in life.”
Be mindful of your energy and attitude. How you "show up" matters. It’s difficult to create a connection with a patient or caregiver if you walk in feeling stressed, frazzled, distracted, and with your mind racing about all the tasks that lie ahead. Dr. Danielle Ofri writes in Slate magazine, “Patients of doctors who score lower on tests that measure empathy appear to have worse clinical outcomes.”
Without a doubt, energy has an impact on engagement -- both yours and a patient’s. Give yourself and your patient the gift of taking a moment to slow down, breathe, and reconnect with the compassion that typically inspires nurses to choose the profession in the first place.
See the value in patients undertaking their own research. The age of the Internet has enticed patients to be more involved. Googling one’s diagnosis is a sign of patient engagement. Appreciate their efforts and that they are taking charge. Guide them to utilize the information in the right way and seek quality resources, including your own organization’s website.
Sites like iHadCancer.com and patientslikeme.com foster patient healing because those with similar problems know what your patient wants to hear. Ask your patients what other ways they may want to take charge of their wellbeing, as this could be a launching pad for behavior change.
Patients who are actively involved in their health tend to have better outcomes. And although officials are still researching what the best practices for engaging patients are, these simple, daily reminders should be helpful tips for engaging patients.
FDA Approves Onivyde for Advanced Pancreatic Cancer Marijke Vroomen Durning, RN, 10/27/2015 3 On October 22, 2015, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Onivyde (irinotecan liposome injection, Merrimack Pharmaceuticals, Inc.), in combination with fluorouracil ...