Patients must always be at the center of healthcare. Even though the practice of clinical care is constantly evolving, along with technology and information delivery, patient expectations are not. Patients always expect a high-quality experience, so a patient-centered healthcare culture isn’t a “nice to have,” it’s a “need to have.”
Healthcare institutions and professionals need to constantly strive to better understand the needs of their patients – and not just medically. We know that hospitals can be frightening places to people who don’t spend a lot of time there. And as a result, healthcare professionals must be aware of the anxiety or fear that patients sometimes experience when receiving healthcare and take responsibility for comforting and reassuring them at every step.
It’s important for the patient to always be considered “the captain of the ship” when it comes to decisions about their own care and treatment. Clinicians are there to inform, advise and support the patient, but it is ultimately up to the patient to determine what course of action will be taken. So, a patient needs to fully understand the procedures and treatments they will undergo, and clinicians must aim to make them as knowledgeable and comfortable as possible, especially when being treated for a complicated or painful illness or injury.
Evidence-based practice (EBP), a widely used problem-solving approach to clinical practice, integrates clinical expertise with the latest and best research evidence, along with known patient values for the best possible patient care. And possibly, the most important element of EBP is taking into account the needs and wants of the individual patient. We need to understand what’s most important to our patients; what are his/her preferences when it comes to treatment options and how does he/she define quality of life? All of these things come together to make up the definition of evidence-based healthcare.
And in the end, it’s important to never lose sight of the fact that all patients deserve to be respected and must to be at the center of focus during every healthcare encounter. Patients expect nurses and other healthcare professionals to be knowledgeable, competent and confident, but also kind and understanding too. Nurses are ambassadors for their institutions, the profession and for their patients too.