When a hospital or medical facility puts its patients’ individualized needs and outcomes as a priority, the medical team of doctors, nurses and assisting staff engage in what is known as patient-centered care. In this modern method of care, patients are considered partners in the process of a holistic healing approach. This may include social, emotional, mental and financial support, as well as clinical.
This type of care is now one of the fastest growing models of care in the medical industry. Having the patient as an integral part of the decision-making process helps to dramatically improve the overall experience. Not surprisingly, in recent years, it has become a movement welcomed by healthcare professionals as well as insurance companies and politicians, according to PubMed.
Nurses play a unique role in this transformative approach to treatment through their vital service as a liaison between patients and doctors. They can serve as advocates to change the way individuals engage with their own health-related processes. That’s why it’s important for nurses to understand what goes into patient-centered care and how they can incorporate it into their rounds today.
Elements of Patient-Centered Care
The shift to patient-centered care happened because of its proven benefits, including:
- Improved health outcomes: A seminal study of 315 patients and 39 family physicians conducted by the Journal of Family Practice determined that patient-centered care was associated with improved “recovery from their discomfort and concern (and) better emotional health.”
- Reduced healthcare costs: A 2011 study by the Department of Family and Community Medicine found that emphasis on a patient’s preferences and individual needs also resulted in fewer referrals, less hospitalization time, fewer prescriptions and not as many diagnostic tests. This means an overall reduction in unnecessary medical costs.
- Overall patient satisfaction: The British Medical Journal found dramatic increases in overall satisfaction through surveys of patients experiencing this type of care.
So, what goes into patient-centered care? It’s generally understood that there are eight elements of patient-centered care in nursing and all forms of healthcare. That are:
- Respect for patients. Doctors and nurses listen to and honor a patients’ values and desires, which naturally vary by individual.
- Coordination of care. The nurses’ role in patient-centered care is just as valuable as that of the doctor, the receptionist and the administrators of any healthcare facility. Importantly, the patient is an integral part of this coordinated effort.
- Communication. Healthcare providers must share information to educate patients so they can collaboratively make decisions.
- Physical comfort. Managing pain, offering comfortable hospital accommodations and helping with day-to-day living for those with health concerns is a priority.
- Emotional support. Holistic health, including reducing anxiety and mental anguish, is just as important as treating acute symptoms and providing diagnoses.
- Timeliness. Everyone should work to reduce the time between the demand for and delivery of care.
- Strengthening support systems. By involving family and friends in patient care, doctors and nurses help patients improve recovery times with an extended system of care.
- Smooth transitions. Movement between healthcare settings, especially from inpatient facilities to home-based care, should be as seamless and secure as possible.
How to Incorporate Patient-Centered Care
Implementing patient-centered care requires a collaborative and systemic shift. Success requires a change in daily habits, best practices and structures throughout the care center, but it’s best to start small. Below, we’ve outlined a few ways you can incorporate patient-centered care into your regular rounds.
Ask key questions
According to Brigham Health,Nurses are uniquely positioned to learn about the patient on a holistic level and ensure treatment procedures fall in line with expectations and cultural values. This communication can occur in a relaxed, non-judgmental atmosphere that respects the emotional and mental health of individuals while gathering the information needed to impart to busy doctors and involved healthcare partners.
Listen to friends and family
Family members and friends are experts on the person receiving care. They have a thorough knowledge of the patient’s medical history, pain tolerance and personal preferences. Encouraging them to speak up and valuing their insight helps build on the patient’s holistic care.
Engage facility leaders
This concept is not possible without working on a facility-wide level with everyone working together. With their supportive and interactive role, nurses should be involved in the crafting of policy, upholding the mission and refining of practices to implement this systematic, cultural effort.
Customizing treatment plans, therapies and medications for the individual may take extra attention and time, but it remains at the heart of how to provide patient-centered care. Nurses can help by collecting biomarkers, genetic information, metabolism rates and immune system functionality to accompany diagnostic information for this personalized offering, according to NEJM Catalyst.
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