4 steps to better patient engagement

Communication, communication, communication. And communication.

That's the core of the four steps hospitals and health systems can take to improve patient engagement, according to a new report from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

"Many of the errors we see in health care stem from communication problems,” said AHRQ Director Carolyn M. Clancy, MD. “That’s why we developed this resource, to give hospitals practical, evidence-based information to improve communication on the front lines of health care — and ultimately keep patients safer.”

Here are the four steps the AHRQ report recommends:

  • Be advisors. How hospitals can recruit and train patients and family members to serve as advisors and train clinicians and hospital staff to work effectively with them.
  • Promote better communication at the bedside to improve quality. How patients and families can interact with the health care team, understand the different roles that team members play and see the importance of being partners with clinicians.
  • Participate in bedside shift reports. Teaching patients and families what a bedside shift report is, how they can contribute to it and how nurses can support those contributions.
  • Prepare to leave the hospital. Different approaches clinicians can use to plan and keep track of the tasks that need to be done before a patient is discharged from the hospital.

All of these focus on clear and transparent communication and inclusion of patients and family members in their care plans, including setting appropriate and achievable expectations.

Download the whole report here.

This post originally appeared on EngagingPatients.org, a blog dedicated to advancing patient and family-centered care. I am a member of the Engaging Patients Advisory Board and write for the blog.