How to Empower Patients and Provide Better Care
When it comes to quality care, everything starts and ends with the patient. Why then are noncompliant patients still such a pressing issue in healthcare? Many patients don’t realize the importance of their own role in receiving care. Passive or disengaged patients can actually hinder providers from doing their jobs, which is why getting patients involved in their treatment is crucial.
Providers need to adopt a “help me help you” mentality to give patients more control in their treatment. These five simple steps will boost patient empowerment and help clinicians provide the best possible care.
1. Educate patients. Many patients will conduct online research prior to their appointments. However, it’s important for providers to make sure patients are getting information from credible sources, especially if patients are using this information to draw conclusions. In one study, the majority (95%) of nurse practitioners reported that patients tend to self-diagnose before seeing a professional. This trend can complicate patients’ receptiveness to care, so providers need to help them discern what’s credible and what isn’t.
2. Give them reliable resources for information. By no means should providers discourage this proactive research. Instead, they should equip patients with the right resources to learn more about their diagnoses, treatments and medications by referring them to reliable websites, blogs, even social media accounts for information. The more patients understand their condition, the better they can help providers do their job.
3. Encourage feedback. Patient-provider interactions should be a dialogue, whereby patients feel comfortable asking questions and voicing concerns about their treatment. Otherwise, patients will feel like they have no control or won’t understand their provider’s instructions, increasing the likelihood that they won’t adhere to their regimen. This lack of understanding or adherence can lead to sustained risks for the patient.
4. Provide telehealth services. As we’ve previously discussed, telehealth services are a powerful tool for increasing patient compliance and engagement, while reducing costs for treatment. With these services, patients can chat with their provider via webcam, monitor their vitals or send their records—with more ease and convenience than ever. Telehealth gives patients more autonomy in their care through these self-managing platforms that benefit patients and providers alike.
5. Make them feel accountable. Above all else, patients need to understand that they can make a difference in their care. Encourage them to ask questions, especially if their treatment involves a strict regimen. The last thing any provider wants is to have a malpractice suit on their hands due to a miscommunication. Providers need to work with their patients to strategize and implement care. If treatment involves any major lifestyle changes, like diet and exercise, the provider should help the patient establish goals to stay on track.
Sometimes, quality care can’t be achieved alone. Even if providers put forth their best efforts, those efforts may be futile if the patient doesn’t comply. Quality care is a team effort, so providers shouldn’t feel incompetent or demanding if they encourage their patients to be more active in their treatment. There’s so much to gain in empowering patients—but even more to lose if you don’t.