Family Involvement in Healthcare

Your hospital is very often not just dealing with patients, but their families as well. So, family involvement in healthcare is an important point to consider.

Maintaining a high quality of patient care ranked as the number two concern of healthcare executives who responded to our survey, seen as a high priority by 71.9% of them. Our data indicate that 43% of hospital executives who responded to our survey reported that their hospitals had not-for-profit status.

Our VIE Healthcare team understands that it is impossible to offer quality care without fully understanding your patient community. Often, healthcare leaders react to health demands – rather than strategically responding to health needs. Community needs assessments provide powerful tools that industry leaders can use to enhance quality care – and, more importantly, through which they can avoid aimlessly implementing policies, procedures, and practices. Through community needs assessments, VIE Healthcare can offer healthcare leaders a systematic method of identifying and addressing unmet healthcare needs of their populations. Our team employs innovative approaches to capturing local community priorities that consider both clinical and cost perspectives.

VIE Healthcare is committed to helping industry leaders maintain their not-for-profit hospital status. Surveys of community members can be particularly useful for these hospitals, allowing them not only to understand better the populations they serve, but also to gain the foundation for creating content that will engage key stakeholders, prospective patients, and healthcare professionals in their local area. Follow-up surveys of patients to ensure quality care, once those patients are discharged from these hospitals, will also be helpful in understanding the public service of not-for-profit hospitals.

Notably, 85% of these healthcare executives also wanted greater involvement of family members. Indeed, increasing the involvement of families can provide a cost-effective means of ensuring quality care, and possibly increasing patient satisfaction as well.

Here are some key ways in which you can increase family involvement. Click To Tweet

1. Use surveys to identify the core needs and concerns of the patient and family. You cannot meet or exceed their expectations if you do not know what those expectations and concerns are. Supplement these data with qualitative analyses of comments in online reviews and with healthcare mystery shopping. Communicate the findings throughout the organization, to help achieve the other goals outlined below.

2. Listen actively to families’ concerns and needs. “If patient and family input is emphatically built into systems of performance improvement, and if patients and families are taken seriously and are respected for their valuable perspectives about how care can be improved, then organizations can improve at improving. Resources in health care are in short supply, yet the sources of patient and family help and time are almost limitless, are ready to be tapped, and can have a huge impact on improving the reliability and the overall success for any healthcare organization.”

3. Partner with families. Julie Ginn Moretz, associate vice chancellor for patient-and family-centered-care at University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences told the National Association for Healthcare Quality (NAHQ) in 2013 that “involving patients and families in quality improvement initiatives is now considered to be a best practice within forward-thinking health care systems: “Today, patients and families must be considered as full partners in every healthcare system to ensure that we are doing everything possible to enhance safety and quality outcomes.” Moretz characterized the movement for patient and family-centered care as having grown from “token” status to “change agent” status in healthcare, with far-reaching implications not only for hospitals and their cultures, but also for patient outcomes.

4. Although family involvement should be cultivated and developed at the department level, it must also be encouraged and supported across the entire organization. The way in which you address and welcome families into the care of the patients must remain strong and consistent across your institution.

5. Demonstrate empathy for patients and families. Fear, uncertainty, disruption of routine, and other factors make hospitalizations tremendously stressful for patients and their families. Educating staff at all levels of the organization (not just front-line clinical staff) about this stress and teaching them to deal compassionately and effectively with patients and families cannot only improve the experience for patients and families but also increase their satisfaction—and protect your reimbursement.

What’s one benefit you’ve gained by working closely with families to improve your hospital care?

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