General Discussions

Patient Engagement

By Lisa Schulmeister, RN, MN, APRN-BC, OCN, FAAN

The Nursing Alliance for Quality Care (NAQC) includes several membership organizations, such as AARP, American Association of Colleges of Nursing, American Academy of Nursing, Consumers Advancing Patient Safety, Mothers Against Medical Error, and the National Quality Forum, to name a few. The alliance recently developed principles to formally define and describe the process of patient engagement. At its core, patient engagement is a dynamic partnership among patients, their families, and their healthcare providers. It’s a delicate balance as privacy, patient autonomy, and ethical decision making need to entered into the equation.

Core principles include grounding the relationship in confidentiality, recognizing mutual responsibilities and accountabilities, and recognizing that some patients may not be able to engage in this partnership and therefore need their healthcare providers to be their advocates. The principles also recognize that patient engagement occurs on a spectrum, with some patients desiring to be more engaged than others. However, all patients should be given the opportunity to be true partners in their own care.

The patient engagement relationship is grounded in an appreciation of patient’s rights and expands on the rights to include mutuality. Mutuality includes sharing of information, creation of consensus, and shared decision making. The principles also note that health care literacy is essential for patients, families,, and healthcare providers to understand the process of patient engagement. Providers must maintain awareness of the health care literacy level of the patient and family and interact accordingly. Acknowledgment and appreciation of diverse backgrounds also is an essential part of the engagement process. The NAQC principles may be retrieved at:

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