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Nurses Are Key to Success in Patient-Centered Care

Patient-centered care (PCC) is a new approach to providing healthcare that promises to improve outcomes as well as the experience of care. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, patient-centered care occurs when “an individual’s specific health needs and desired health outcomes are the driving force behind all health care decisions and quality measurements. Patients are partners with their health care providers, and providers treat patients not only from a clinical perspective, but also from an emotional, mental, spiritual, social, and financial perspective” (NEJM Catalyst, 2017).

The Benefits of Patient-Centered Care

In addition to experience and outcome improvements for patients, NEJM identifies the following additional reasons to transition to this approach to care delivery:

  • Improved satisfaction scores, which can be linked to HCAHPS results, and in turn affect reimbursement.
  • Better reputations for healthcare providers who practice PCC.
  • Staff morale and productivity can improve when they see the impact on patients.
  • Changing how staff and other resources are allocated when patients become the center of activity.
  • Controlled expenses and better operating margins after care is focused more strongly on patient outcomes.

What Stands in the Way of Patient-Centered Care?

  • In a hospital, the range of services and departments is wide. With so many different procedures to keep track of, implementing PCC across all these departments and services can be difficult.
  • Many departments and clinics will adopt their own definition of PCC, which can lead to confusion and miscommunication when nurses and other staff members work in different departments simultaneously.
  • Developing a general procedure or policy behind PCC must come from the top of an organization to ensure consistency.

The Role of Nurses in Patient-Centered Care

Interactions with the nursing staff are often what determine how patients feel about their care. Nurses spend far more time with a patient than anyone else in a facility, providing bedside services, comfort, and often explanations of what is involved in care. That means they will play an outsized role in providing patient-centered care. It isn’t a far stretch, given that already every decision a nurse makes should be focused on patient needs and concerns. Whenever an organization decides to implement patient-centered care as a general approach, nurses will be front and center in the effort.

An upside to nurses’ role in patient-centered care is that it may generate more job satisfaction. Seeing patients have better outcomes can be fulfilling and drive better morale. That in turn can drive nurse retention, patients’ demand for services, and improved local reputations.

This blog post is based on one from NurseGrid, a HealthStream partner committed to transforming healthcare for the better. They recently posted The Challenges and Rewards of Patient-Centered Care, in which they write “Patient-centered care or PCC is a term that’s used to describe care in which the patient’s needs come first. It may sound pretty straightforward or generic, but in reality, creating a uniform definition of patient-centered care is one of the biggest obstacles to implementing these procedures.”

References

NEJM Catalyst, “What Is Patient-Centered Care?,” January 1, 2017, retrieved at https://catalyst.nejm.org/what-is-patient-centered-care/.

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