3 Simple Ways Hospitals Can Engage Patients in Their Care

Successfully reducing readmissions and improving patient satisfaction requires hospitals to engage patients in their care. Patients who are involved in decision-making about their health are more likely to understand how to take care of themselves and thus prevent a hospitalization or readmission. Engaged patients also have a greater sense of control and tend to be more satisfied. Here are three simple ways hospitals can engage patients in their care.

1. Educate patients through verbal and written communication. Education is one of the top strategies to engage patients in their care, because patients who are educated about their condition and their choices feel more empowered to partner with healthcare providers in their care. Hospitals should educate patients through multiple modalities, including verbal communication and written instructions.

For example, Placentia (Calif.)-Linda Hospital provides a patient guide that includes clinical information, such as the importance of tracking medications, and practical information related to the hospital, such as instructions on adjusting the hospital bed, according to Pam Walrod, director of marketing and community relations at the hospital.

2. Encourage patients to ask questions.
Hospitals should also encourage patients to ask questions and discuss their care with their providers. Patients may not ask questions because they are afraid or they don't know what to ask. To overcome these challenges, Placentia-Linda Hospital includes examples of important questions to ask healthcare providers and space for note-taking in its patient guide.

3. Encourage feedback. In addition to providing information to patients, hospitals should also provide channels for patients to make comments about their care. Hospitals can promote patient feedback by directly asking patients about their stay; administering surveys by mail or phone; and establishing patient advisory committees to suggest or comment on changes, among other strategies. Placentia-Linda Hospital has a phone line dedicated to patient satisfaction that patients can use to provide feedback on their care.

More Articles on Patient Engagement:

Population Health Management is a Two-Way Street: Encouraging Patient Engagement
Proactive Patient Education and Engagement Helps Hospitals Achieve Stage 2 Meaningful Use Compliance

Hackensack University Medical Center Reduces Readmissions Through Interactive Post-Discharge Program

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