Nurses are the only people who spend the most time with the patients. And their biggest priority is to provide quality care to their patients. However, patient care is not just about knowing what is wrong with a person. It is also about becoming advocates for those who are suffering from diseases.
Nurses are the superheroes in the health care system. They are the people who face the day-to-day issues of their patients and try to resolve them the best way they can. The American Nurse Association states that nurses must promote and advocate for the rights of their patients.
The healthcare system makes people feel like they don’t have a voice. This apprehension has led to many problems in the healthcare sector. Furthermore, when people do not feel in control of their health, they will not comply with treatment plans. Due to this, victim empowerment is vital to improving patient satisfaction and engagement.
Who can help?
Nurses can play a positive and proactive role in empowering patients. They can become confidants and friends for everyone as 15% of nurses practice in closed communities. Furthermore, according to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, 1 out of every 15 patients receive charitable care.
Experts believe that specialized knowledge can improve patient-centered care. Therefore, to enhance their careers, it is suggested to opt for a BSN to Masters in nursing online to enhance the skills they need to optimize patient care.
What is patient empowerment?
According to the WHO, empowerment refers to the method through which people take control of their health. They make decisions about their treatment plan. It includes deciding which medicine they will take and which surgeries they will get.
There are four main components of patient empowerment. The first component is knowledge. A person must understand their role in the healthcare system to make better decisions about themselves. The second is by providing patients with the knowledge to help them engage with the medical professional. Thirdly, patients must possess the required skills to make their decisions themselves. Lastly, healthcare professionals must provide patients a supportive environment so that they can easily make their decisions. Therefore, it is the responsibility of healthcare professionals to help patients make their decisions. Patients must recognize their role in the treatment process and actively participate in it.
Why the focus on empowerment?
Ideas about patient care are changing. Healthcare organizations have to provide optimal care while confronting many issues. They must contend with budget limitations, an aging population, and the shortage of skilled labor. Furthermore, healthcare institutions treat patients more as consumers rather than powerless individuals who need their help. Gone are the days of medical staff making all the decisions without consultation or patient input. Nowadays, the patient must take an active part in deciding what their treatment looks like. According to research, 75% of patients want a personalized relationship with their medical professionals. And the nurse must educate patients about their possible decisions. They must inform the patients about their lifestyle and how their choices affect their health. Patients believe that digital tools can provide better health care and make them active participants in the healthcare sector.
How can nurses empower patients to take care of themselves?
- Improve transparency: Patients expect their service providers to keep them in the loop about their treatment. Since patients are selective about whom they trust with their bodies, nurses can build confidence by being transparent. The nurse must disclose in-depth information about the treatment to comfort the patient. Patients might resort to getting information from unreliable sources. Therefore, it is necessary to provide clear, actionable plans to patients. Doctors and nurses can share information through their website or newsletter to make patients more confident.
- Embrace the technology: Digitalization has changed how we think about healthcare. It has made the sector more efficient and accessible. Websites can engage and empower patients to follow their treatment plans. Furthermore, wearable tech makes it easier to monitor patient health and provide reliable information to doctors. Additionally, once patients can measure their data, they are motivated to make better changes to their lives. They can easily track their progress and improve their lifestyle.
- Make healthcare more convenient: Longer waiting times are an age-old problem in the healthcare sector. Patients may have to wait hours, months, or days to get medical help. Not only do these waiting times affect patient satisfaction, but they also make them less likely to seek medical aid. Furthermore, long waiting times can make existing conditions worse and compound the cost of treatment. Nurses can empower patients by optimizing scheduling procedures and reducing waiting room times. Convenience can break down the barriers of indifference and improve retention.
- Self-efficacy: Patients must not only know how to make the correct decision, but they should also believe that they can make the right decision. To do so, patients should know how to manage their diseases and modify their lifestyles accordingly. Patient engagement is not only about exploring the ability of the subject but also the opportunities the system provides to them.
Should it be empowerment or participation?
Most experts think empowerment is not the correct term to use in such circumstances. They believe that patient participation seems a better alternative as it implies that both parties are on an equal footing. Furthermore, empowerment is an ongoing process. Since patient needs change with time, patients may feel empowered in one context while powerless in another.
What are the barriers to patient empowerment?
The current barriers to patient empowerment are cultural. Patients face a language barrier and generation gaps when they consult a medical professional. Furthermore, elderly patients might face problems in accessing healthcare due to technology barriers. Medical professionals can resolve all these issues by building long-lasting relationships with their patients. They must help them get over the fear of being labeled as difficult by others. Therefore, it is vital to change the mindset of the population.
It is vital to keep in mind that not every doctor takes the time to empower their patients. Some medical professionals use incomprehensible terminology that prevents patients from making better choices. However, when patients make better decisions, they help make the healthcare system more efficient. Furthermore, empowered patients focus on self-care. Remember that care does not mean the same for everyone, so medical professionals must provide personalized care to each patient. Nurses often face ideological and organizational constraints when they try to improve patient empowerment.