3 ways nurses can increase patient engagement

From bundled reimbursement payments to specialty service lines, in the current health care environment providers are increasingly called on to decrease costs while improving patient outcomes. A budget-friendly solution that many hospitals have found to answer this pressing need is encouraging patients to become more involved in their own care. According to a 2015 study published in Health Affairs, increasing patient engagement both lowers economic costs and improves patient outcomes. It's a strategy with a low financial cost that provides big results in the hospital setting. 

Facing the challenges presented by health care reform, it is critical that patients are engaged with their own care to ensure that everything possible is being done for patients both in health care facilities and at home. Nurses in particular can improve patient engagement in hospitals by implementing these three simple strategies. 

"Work together toward a common goal: increased health outcomes."

1. Create a partnership 
The first step to increasing patient engagement is to create a partnership. It is critical that nurses build trust with their charges and create a relationship where both parties are working together toward a common goal: increased health outcomes. Nurses should engage with their patients and take any concerns or questions they have seriously. FierceHealthcare reported that research has shown patients who feel they are respected by their health care providers experience fewer medical errors during their care. This partnership should consequently emphasize the ethics, privacy, confidentiality and trust that will signal respect to patients. 

2. Educate effectively 
To increase patient engagement, nurses need to make sure that they are not just educating their patients, but are doing so in an effective manner that translates to improved care. When providers buy into the idea that patients do better when they are well-informed, processes will improve and outcomes will follow. Nurses should continually be looking for new ways to cater information to each individual patient, as every person processes and retains information in unique ways. To ensure that education is being conveyed effectively, providers should be in the habit of asking patients to explain the information back in their own words at the end of the conversation. They should be able to teach it back if they have absorbed the information properly.  

Nurses should form a partnership with their patients. Nurses should form a partnership with their patients.  

3. Don't stop at information 
When it comes to engagement, educating patients is not enough in and of itself. It is important for nurses to ensure that their patients are not just processing the information that they are given, but actually following through when necessary. According to American Nurse Today, one way to encourage this is to design ways to make it easier for patients to do the right thing. Nurses need to create interventions and reminders that will help keep patients' health on track, and additionally work on simplifying the messages that are communicated. The role of a nurse involves coaching just as much as teaching. 

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