One of the most important aspects of healthcare is the personal responsibility we take for our care. Unless we are active partners in our care, it is possible to go see the doctor and not get better. Imagine if you were given an antibiotic to treat an infection, but never took the pills. The infection would never go away.
In trying to achieve good healthcare outcomes, we increasingly realize that an important part of the puzzle is patient responsibility. For example, if a patient experiences multiple health problems related to weight — such as Type II diabetes, high blood pressure, and joint pain — the doctor will likely advise the patient to begin a walking program, to attend a wellness class, and to begin eating more healthfully. However, if this advice is ignored, it is like not taking the antibiotic — the patient will not get better.
Being an informed patient and recognizing personal responsibility for healthcare and wellness means using the resources provided by a physician, therapist, nurse, pharmacist, or other medical expert to improve personal health and wellness. Our health is not the responsibility of someone else — each patient is an essential part of the care team — and the patient’s effort is directly linked to their ability to achieve improved health, recovery, or wellness.
Taking responsibility — maybe writing notes, or following up with a phone call with questions — is essential for your personal wellness.
How the Hospital Can Help
Sue Conners, orthopedic coordinator and discharge nurse at North Valley Hospital, explains how the hospital works with patients to ensure that care is transitioned seamlessly after a hospital visit. She says, “The discharge process starts when a patient is admitted. Providers talk with patients and family members to see what the patient needs at home for recovery, what resources they have, and what we can do to help them succeed.”
Conners explains that the hospital addresses all of the components of a patient’s diagnosis during their hospital stay to help prepare the patient to take on responsibility for their own care when they go home. Patients work with multiple departments including nursing, dietary, physicians, pharmacy, and therapy to ensure they have all the resources and information they need.
As Conners explains, North Valley Hospital has a goal of creating a clear, easy to understand discharge process for patients. This collaborative effort ensures that when a patient leaves the hospital, they have tools they need to assume responsibility for their continued health.
“We work hard at discharge to provide all the information and materials patients need to take care of themselves. And, we also want patients to be empowered to reach out to us, even after their hospitalization, if they need more information or assistance in coordinating their care,” Conners states.
Taking Charge of Personal Health and Wellness
To be an informed patient, Conners recommends a few tips to remember. Mostly, don’t be afraid to ask questions or call back after leaving the hospital, pharmacy, or doctor’s office. In addition, she says, “Use the knowledge we give you in the hospital to be successful in healing and health.”
Tactics for being an informed patient include: ask questions, take notes, bring family to listen to instructions, take advantage of literature provided by nursing and therapy, write down your questions so you remember to ask them, and call back if you have other questions.
Allison Linville handles marketing and community relations for North Valley Hospital.