In healthcare, patients often are used to nurses and other healthcare professionals taking care of them without having any responsibilities. In nursing, it is crucial to start patient education as soon as the patient comes into the hospital, so they are better able to care for themselves once they leave. Being able to empower patients to care for themselves means they have control over something that matters to them: their health. Healthcare professionals can help patients understand how important it is for the patients to manage their own health. (Bisognano, 2019)
Something nurses can do to empower patients to take charge of their health, is for the patient to manage data collection. Data collection would involve things like taking their own vital signs, keeping a medication schedule, knowing the signs and symptoms, and checking their blood sugar. Empowering these patients to take care of data collection improves their involvement and can lead to better outcomes and satisfaction.
Empowering patients to make health decisions gives them confidence, and with the confidence earned, they are more able to communicate with healthcare professionals and say what they’re worried about or what they want for themselves. As nurses, we cannot just tell patients what to do, we should advise and educate them to lead them to improve. Another way to empower patients is to explain to them what is going on. For example, before giving them a medication, explain what it is and why it is needed. When the patient knows this, it makes them feel comfortable and empowered. (“How to empower your patients every shift”, 2015)
Other strategies include:
- Creating solutions alongside the patient
- Engaging the patient in communication
- Creating planned education models with the patient, instead of just handing them a sheet with information on it
- Talk to administration about offering continuing education to patients
Our responsibility as nurses is to be patient advocates, and that means making sure your patient feels confident in the care they’re receiving, as well as having them take control of their health.
Bisognano, M. (2019, October 23). 5Data-Driven Patient Empowerment Strategies.Retrieved from
Generally, there are many strategies that might be effective in empowering clients (emergency patients in particular) to make health decisions. Firstly, staying connected with clients on a constant basis, for example, to inform him or her of the importance of following the diet can help motivate them to make health decisions and adopt healthy habits. This might include health coaching, wellness programs, and personalized care plans that promote behavior change, and motivate clients to follow preventive care guidelines, eat healthy food, and perform physical exercises. Secondly, embracing social networking can help healthcare professionals keep client engagement levels high, positively impacting their health decision making. The researchers state that minority clients are rarely consulted about their health preferences, they are unlikely to ask treatment-related questions, and thus, they tend to receive incomplete data on their health (Chen, Mullins, Novak, & Thomas, 2016). From this perspective, social networks provide perfect means for indirect communication with clients in order to help them make correct health decisions. Thirdly, with the significant growth in healthcare’s mobile auditory, providing clients with mobile options for accessing condition-specific data, personal health records, lab results, and other health-related information builds the foundation for collaborative care, and improves health decision making. Next, providing clients with a highest possible level of control and convenience can empower them to make health decisions. The correct combination of self-management and self-service options allow healthcare professionals to partner with clients to improve their health outcomes. Finally initiating a dialogue is a simple strategy that allows to encourage open communication with clients to help them follow treatment plans, manage their health, positively impacting their health decisions. In addition, this provides the ability to more accurately identify the challenges clients face when they come to the healthcare unit. For instance, town hall meetings can be effective in rural settings with limited access to mobile phone networks or Internet. These strategies can help empower clients to make health decisions, lead a healthy lifestyle, follow treatment guidelines, and receive recommended screenings.
All the strategies listed above might also be helpful in encouraging clients to be accountable for their own health. Firstly, staying connected with clients can help educate them about the significance of following treatment recommendations, whereas making them more accountable for their health. This can also increase their engagement, helping prevent complications and chronic diseases. Secondly, the vast majority of clients are currently using social networks. They are effective in connecting clients with similar health problems, pointing them to reliable healthcare resources, and providing educational materials about wellness and health. Using YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms for healthcare-related purposes can significantly increase client accountability regarding their health. Thirdly, healthcare mobile applications can be helpful in facilitating shared decision making between healthcare providers and clients, increasing their satisfaction, and encouraging greater participation (Abbasgholizadeh, Menear, Robitaille, & Légaré, 2017). Better interaction and convenient access to data can not only result in more effective care, but also encourage clients to be accountable for their own health. In addition, numerous clients got used to rely on self-service instruments from retailers, airlines, and banks. Providing them with the ability to make appointments or access their medical records online will increase their level of control and convenience, making them more accountable for their health actions. Lastly, starting a conversation with clients leads to patients’ increased satisfaction and builds stronger relationships with healthcare team. This encourages more open communication with clients, providing the ability to better explain them the importance of making correct health decisions. In its turn, an improved communication will lead to an increased client accountability for their own health. All the strategies listed above could be helpful in both empowering healthcare clients (including the emergency patients) to make health decisions and making them accountable for their own health.
Abbasgholizadeh R. S., Menear, M., Robitaille, H., & Légaré, F. (2017). Are mobile health applications useful for supporting shared decision making in diagnostic and treatment decisions? Global Health Action, 10(sup3), 1332259. doi:10.1080/16549716.2017.1332259
Chen, J., Mullins, C. D., Novak, P., & Thomas, S. B. (2016). Personalized Strategies to Activate and Empower Patients in Health Care and Reduce Health Disparities. Health Education & Behavior: The Official Publication of the Society for Public Health Education, 43(1), 25–34. doi:10.1177/1090198115579415