4 ways hospital leaders can foster patient engagement

To create a positive and safe patient engagement environment, healthcare providers must collaborate with patients and their families, according to a new report from the National Patient Safety Foundation's Lucian Leape Institute.

Patients, who know their symptoms and their responses to treatment better than anyone else, are ideal partners in their own healthcare, according to the report, "Safety Is Personal: Partnering with Patients and Families for the Safest Care." Unfortunately, the report states, healthcare providers often create an environment where patients do not speak up about their own care for fear staff will consider them "difficult."

The report makes specific recommendations for healthcare leaders to create an environment that encourages patient engagement:

  1. Make engagement one of the organization's core goals and values: Successful organizations "create standards of dignity and respect for all and implement policies that facilitate patient engagement, such as providing open access to clinical records, establishing open visitation policies and asking patients and families to serve on improvement and safety committees," the report states.

  2. Involve patients and their families in the care design/improvement process: Providers should also invite patients and families to serve on safety, quality and personnel review committees, the report states.

  3. Train all staff in patient/family engagement: "Patients and families have an important role in educating clinicians about the experience of illness, as well as working with them on developing communication skills that are specific to patient/family partnerships, shared decision-making, and disclosure and apology," the report states.

  4. Raise public awareness by collaborating with community and patient advocacy groups: "This should not be seen simply as a new initiative or program; it is rather an effort to inspire a strategic alignment across the communities of healthcare consumers and advocates, policy makers, researchers and healthcare leaders and clinicians to commit to increasing patient engagement in order to reduce harm," the report states. 

A recent research brief from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that effective patient engagement requires a combination of transparency, engagement and collaboration, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

To learn more:
- read the report (.pdf)