Posts Tagged ‘patient-centered care’

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‘The Nurse Who Changed My Treatment’

May 29, 2013
By Annalisa Ochoa, for AJN. All rights reserved.

By Annalisa Ochoa, for AJN. All rights reserved.

Two years ago, when I was diagnosed with advanced lung cancer in the ED of a large urban hospital, I asked a nurse if I could borrow her cell phone. Without hesitation, she handed me her Blackberry—this simple gesture was a first indication of the solidarity I’d come to feel with the nurses whose kindnesses have helped me heal.

We think it’s important to sometimes include a patient perspective in our monthly Reflections essay. “The Nurse Who Changed My Treatment,” the June Reflections essay, is by Nila Webster, who writes about the gestures by nurses, the little kindnesses and words of wisdom and encouragement, that helped her during her treatment for lung cancer and made her feel seen and understood. The essay is free, and short, so please click the link and give it a read.—JM, senior editor

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‘Patient Activation’: Real Paradigm Shift or Updated Jargon?

February 7, 2013

By Jacob Molyneux, AJN senior editor

I attended a Health Affairs briefing yesterday in Washington, DC. Based on the February issue of the journal, it was called “A New Era of Patient Engagement.” A lot of research money appears to have been flowing to this area in recent years.

Our January article on "Navigating the PSA Screening Dilemma" includes a discussion of 'shared decision making'

Our January article on “Navigating the PSA Screening Dilemma” includes a discussion of ‘shared decision making’

The basic idea isn’t entirely new to anyone who’s been hearing the term “patient-centered care” for a long time: as Susan Dentzer writes in “Rx for the ‘Blockbuster Drug’ of Patient Engagement,” a useful article summarizing the main ideas raised in the Health Affairs issue: “Wherever engagement takes place, the emerging evidence is that patients who are actively involved in their health and health care achieve better health outcomes, and have lower health costs, than those who aren’t.”

One might add to these projected benefits: better experiences as patients.

Something’s got to change, so why not this? If many nurses feel they’ve heard all this before, the sense of a health care system in necessary flux is particularly acute right now, with mounting pressures from an aging Baby Boom generation with its full complement of chronic conditions, not to mention federal budget constraints and the influx of patients expected from the Affordable Care Act. It’s unlikely we’d be talking so much about patient engagement if we weren’t facing, perhaps as never before, the need to do something about the glaring gap between costs and quality in the U.S. health care system.

Patient activation. A term that got a huge amount of use at the briefing was “patient activation.” Hibbard and colleagues define it thus, in an article on the the evidence for cost reductions associated with patient activation: “understanding one’s own role in the care process and having the knowledge, skills, and confidence to take on that role.” Some examples of patient activation they cite are patients with type 2 diabetes performing regular foot checks and keeping a glucose diary, or patients who regularly exercise and get relevant screenings.

Don’t write off certain type of patients. Many of the presenters emphasized that it’s important to see patient activation as a possibility for every patient, whatever their socioeconomic level, disease severity, or cognitive limitations. As Hibbard put it, “there are more or less activated patients in every demographic.” Providers need to meet patients where they are and, as Marion Danis put it in an article on the ethical justification for getting patient activation right, set goals and have realistic expectations.

The physician problem. Many presenters noted that, without support from the health care system, individual efforts may not make much of a difference. In addition, physician resistance was mentioned repeatedly, whether attributed to their lack of time, their skepticism, or the overly common belief that more expensive care is always better. Bernabeo and colleagues observed that even those physicians who advocate shared decision making may not always engage in it. Their article on necessary competencies posits four crucial elements for true patient engagement: system support, providing patients with decision aids, collaborations and teamwork (can anyone say nurses?), and new reimbursement models.

Lin and colleagues, in looking at efforts to distribute decision aids in primary care practices, also noted physician-based problems with furthering patient activation, discovering that physicians

  • didn’t see a role for patients in their own care.
  • believed they lacked the time to give them decision aids.
  • didn’t see a potential benefit in doing so.

They also found, again unsurprisingly, that clinical support staff embraced the concept far more than the physicians did. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Individualized A1c Targets for Type 2 Diabetes

October 23, 2012

By Jane Seley, DNP, MPH, MSN, BC-ADM, CDE, diabetes nurse practitioner at New York Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Hospital, New York City

On April 19th, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) released a joint position statement online that represented a giant step forward in the care of people with type 2 diabetes. “Management of Hyperglycemia in Type 2 Diabetes: A Patient-Centered Approach” is a comprehensive yet easy to read primer in the most up-to-date therapies, one that also emphasizes individualizing care as the key to success.

An example of the patient-centered approach of this position statement is a refinement of the customary across-the-board hemoglobin A1c test target recommendation of less than 7% for most people with type 2 diabetes, with pre-meal blood glucose (BG) targets of less than 130 mg/dL and post-meal targets of less than 180 mg/dL. The position statement suggests “more stringent” targets of 6%–6.5% for “selected” patients who are younger and in good health, but safer targets of 7.5%–8% for older patients who have comorbidities or are prone to hypoglycemia.

When discussing therapeutic options, each medication is ranked according to its potential for lowering A1c, risk of hypoglycemia, effect on weight, adverse effects, and cost. In addition, the clinician is encouraged to individualize the treatment regimen by considering age, weight goal, and comorbidities such as heart disease and kidney function. For example, if losing weight is an important consideration for the patient, then a medication that may assist in weight loss such as metformin (oral agent) or a GLP-1 receptor agonist (injectable) would be good choices. A weight-neutral alternative would be a DPP-IV inhibitor (oral agent).

The position statement reminds us that lifestyle changes are a priority, with a focus on weight optimization, healthy meals, and increased activity levels. My favorite part of this document is the recommendation that treatment decisions be made in partnership with the patient, with a focus on each individual’s preferences, needs, and values.

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Magnet Hospitals: It’s About the Process, Not the Designation

January 23, 2012

By Shawn Kennedy, AJN editor-in-chief

When I had a recent medical emergency, I went to the local community hospital near my home in northern New Jersey. I had been there before for outpatient testing or to the ER with a child and found the care attentive and efficient and the staff friendly and professional. Besides, it was a Magnet-designated hospital, so I was confident that I’d receive good care.

The ancillary staff was wonderful, but I found myself disappointed with the nurses on the acute med/surg unit where I was located. There was no rounding that I was aware of, and they seemed to only show up when it was time to administer meds. Only a few nurses introduced themselves, and only two nurses over three days really engaged me in any conversation. Nurses seemed to respond to call lights only for those patients to whom they were assigned. The unit clerk who promptly answered the call light intercom would say, “I’ll let your nurse know and she’ll be in soon”—when I asked for pain medication, she told me “your nurse is giving report; I’ll let her know when she’s finished.” I waited uncomfortably for more than half an hour.

There were whiteboards, but often the information—especially regarding the date and the name of the nurse—was unchanged from day to day and no longer accurate. (This was annoying, in that they kept asking me what date it was and I kept getting it wrong!)

The worst, though, was the noise level at night. I’ve worked nights, and I know it’s easy to forget to keep conversations hushed. But this unit was a good example of those that are as “noisy as chainsaws” (see our recent post on this). I was two doors down from the nurses’ station and I could hear every conversation, people singing holiday carols, detailed discussions of patients (forget HIPAA!). Requests that they reduce the noise made no difference. One night, I learned every detail about one nurse’s vacation plans while she and a colleague spoke in normal, conversational tones, occasionally laughing, while providing care to the elderly woman in the bed next to me at 2:30 am.

When I asked if they could speak a bit more quietly, one of the nurses angrily pulled back the curtain and told me that I had to understand that they needed to take care of the woman and would be done shortly. She then resumed talking about her vacation. I barely slept at all the three days I was there. It was exhausting, and I was happy to get home.

A few days later, I was admitted to a large teaching medical center in Manhattan, where I stayed for 10 days. The contrast was startling. The ICU nurses were incredibly attentive and supportive; they made me and my family feel that I was safe and in excellent hands. On the med/surg unit, the nurse manager introduced herself when I arrived. My assigned nurse for each shift would introduce herself and ask me if I needed anything; she came by frequently, even if only to poke her head in the room and say, “Everything OK?” Nursing assistants likewise introduced themselves and would inquire if I needed anything. Read the rest of this entry ?

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The Monkey in Room 100

June 2, 2011

By Karen Gonzol, MSN, RN. Karen is an assistant professor in the division of nursing at Shenandoah University in Virginia. This is her first post for AJN.

I saw him again, just a few days ago. It has been nearly two years since Mother died, but there he was, peering at me from his perch in my sister’s laundry room.

Mother had been placed on hospice care for her congestive heart failure. She settled somewhat reluctantly into the nursing home and waited for the end.

As she discovered that the wait was going to be much longer than she’d planned, she decided to go on with living. Her room was on the first floor, with a window facing out into the courtyard. The staff loved her, and she loved to tease them. She made an effort to learn their names, and when she couldn’t remember she made up nicknames, such as “Bow Lady” for the assistant who always wore a huge bow to tie back her hair. One July day she began asking, “Do you see those monkeys in the tree out there?” Read the rest of this entry ?

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Promoting Awareness of Patient-Centered Care

October 7, 2010

By Shawn Kennedy, AJN interim editor-in-chief

October is, among other things, patient-centered care awareness month. At AJN, we’ve been focusing on patient-centered care for some time, most recently by virtue of our collaboration on a series of articles with Planetree, a nonprofit that “facilitates patient-centered care in healing environments.” The first article, Creating a Patient-Centered System, appeared in March 2009; the final article (from which we took the image above) was published in September 2010, and they’re all available in a collection on our Web site. Articles focus on such topics as creating quieter hospital environments and promoting patient access to medical records. We’re excited that this collaboration evolved into a four-part free webinar series supported by the Picker Institute. The final webinar, A Patient-Centered Approach to Visitation, presented by Planetree vice president Jeanette Michalak, MSN, RN, along with Wendy Tennis, BA, and Nancy Jane Schreiner, BSN, RN, will be on October 19 at 1 pm EST. We hope you will register and learn how to facilitate family visitation that meets patient needs. (The Planetree Web site also offers a downloadable toolkit and suggestions to focus attention on patient-centered care.)

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