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September 12, 2013

AHRQ Patient Engagement Guide

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) released a new guide that gives hospitals patient engagement strategies, a topic we have covered over the years. The four evidence-based strategies will help hospitals eliminate communication gaps among patients, their family members and healthcare providers, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services agency announced.

The guide was tested and evaluated at 200-bed Advocate Trinity Hospital in Chicago, 324-bed Anne Arundel Medical Center in Annapolis, Md., and 76-bed Patewood Memorial Hospital in Greenville, S.C.. The guide's sections include:

  • Information to Help Hospitals Get Started addressing:

    How to select, implement, and evaluate the Guide's strategies.

    How patient and family engagement can benefit your hospital.

    How senior hospital leadership can promote patient and family engagement.

  • Strategy 1: Working With Patients and Families as Advisors shows how hospitals can work with patients and family members as advisors at the organizational level.
  • Strategy 2: Communicating to Improve Quality helps improve communication among patients, family members, clinicians, and hospital staff from the point of admission.
  • Strategy 3: Nurse Bedside Shift Report supports the safe handoff of care between nurses by involving the patient and family in the change of shift report for nurses.
  • Strategy 4: IDEAL Discharge Planning helps reduce preventable readmissions by engaging patients and family members in the transition from hospital to home.

As reported by FierceHealthcare: With the first strategy, hospitals incorporate the patient's perspective into the planning, delivery and evaluation of healthcare services, the AHRQ noted. For example, hospitals can work with patient and family advisors to revise patient and family handbooks, informational videos or care instructions.

To implement the patient and family advisor strategy, the AHRQ guide recommends identifying a staff liaison to oversee and coordinate with advisory council members. Hospital staff also can hand out postcards to people they think would make good patient and family advisors.

Following the second strategy, hospitals can foster better communication before admission. Patients and families should receive three tools at or prior to admission that include the hospital name, logo and tailored information. Moreover, the guide recommends having the bedside nurse review the tools with patients and families on the day of admission.

To ensure safer handoffs, strategy three calls on hospital staff to briefly explain the process at each shirt change and invites the patient and family to take part in the bedside shift report. The guide recommends having the patient define who can be present during the bedside shift report, as well as use a door hanger that says either "please wake me for my for shift report" or "please do not disturb."

The fourth strategy aims to engage the patient and family in discharge planning using the IDEAL framework. IDEAL encourages hospital staff to include the patient and family as full partners in the discharge process, discuss ways to prevent problems at home, educate in plain language, assess how well doctors and nurses explain matters, and listen to and honor the patient and family's preferences and concerns.

The new AHRQ guide adds to federal efforts to engage patients in their own healthcare, which U.S. Chief Technology Officer Todd Park highlighted at the Health Privacy Summit in Washington, D.C. last month.

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