Pratt: Patient input helps direct St. James Hospital care

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Research shows that when patients are engaged in their health care, it can lead to measurable improvements in safety and quality of care.

To promote stronger patient engagement, it is suggested hospitals focus on four primary strategies for promoting patient/family engagement in hospital safety and quality of care:

• Encourage patients and family members to participate as advisors.

• Promote better communication among patients, family members and health care professionals from the point of admission.

• Implement safe continuity of care by keeping the patient and family informed through nurse bedside change-of-shift reports.

• Engage patients and families in discharge planning throughout the hospital stay.

While the rationale for actively involving patients in their health and health care seems obvious, patient involvement has not always been part of the culture in hospitals.

A patient-centered culture must embrace four guiding principles:

1 – Dignity and Respect

Health care practitioners listen to and honor patient and family perspectives and choices. Patient and family knowledge, values, beliefs and cultural backgrounds are incorporated into the planning and delivery of care.

2 – Information Sharing

Health care practitioners communicate and share complete and unbiased information with patients and families in ways that are affirming and useful. Patients and families receive timely, complete and accurate information in order to effectively participate in care and decision-making.

3 – Participation

Patients and families are encouraged and supported in participating in care and decision-making at the level they choose.

4 – Collaboration

Patients, families, health care practitioners and health care leaders collaborate in policy and program development, implementation and evaluation; in facility design; and in professional education, as well as in the delivery of care.

To stimulate collaboration, St. James Parish Hospital has formed a Partnership Advisory Committee (PAC), which serves to actively seek patient and family input to promote patient safety, improve quality and achieve a better patient experience.

Comprised of patients, family members and hospital staff, the PAC represents a formal mechanism for involving patients, family and staff as partners for developing policy and designing programs.

Through their unique perspectives, patients and family give input on issues that impact care, ensuring the next patient or family member’s journey is easier, safer and better.

At St. James Parish Hospital we understand the viewpoint of providing care is not the same as of those experiencing an illness — we acknowledge both perspectives are needed.

We believe the Partnership Advisory Committee will provide us with greater insight and help us improve the patient experience because we always want to be true to our motto: Large enough to Serve, Small enough to Care.

Mary Ellen Pratt is St. James Parish Hospital CEO. She can be reached at