HAP Blog

Patient and Family Engagement: Recovering from the Pandemic

Part 1 of 3

June 01, 2021

Through a three-part blog series, we explore the importance of considering the impact of and strategies to engage patient and family engagement through: visitation policies during and after COVID-19, diversity and health equity, patient and family advisory councils, and the health of our health care heroes.

Early last year, the World Health Organization (WHO) acknowledged what would become a new reality: that the world was dealing with a new and deadly coronavirus known as SARS-CoV-2—which would eventually be renamed COVID-19.

For health care providers and organizations, this meant instantly being plunged into a new normal of heightened infection prevention protocols, a scramble to source personal protective equipment, and the challenge of providing care for patients with this novel virus.

Hospitals and health systems had to shift their focus to developing policies and protocols designed to ensure the health and safety of patients, the hospital workforce, and the surrounding community. All of this was absolutely necessary, but it unfortunately came at the expense of the partnership, engagement, access, and inclusion between patient, family, and provider that we’ve come to rely on.

Simply put, the pandemic has changed pretty much everything, including how the voice of the patient and family was sought and received during this emergent situation.

As we slowly emerge from this pandemic, what have we learned about the impact of setting aside the principles of patient-and-family-centered care in order to fight disease? More importantly, when we reach herd immunity and some COVID-19 precautions ease, what does that mean for the future of patient and family engagement (PFE)? Do we return to the PFE principles and practices of the past, or do take with us lessons learned and create a new normal of patient-and-family-centered care?

PFE’s Benefits

PFE in health care is a partnership between patients, family members, and the clinical professionals with whom they interact.

Hospitals proactively working to leverage patient engagement enjoy fewer readmissions and improved safety and outcomes, as well as improvements in:

  • Patient experience and compliance to care plans
  • Hospital acquired conditions
  • Patient satisfaction and HCAHPS survey scores
  • Financial performance
  • Market share and patient loyalty
  • Employee satisfaction and retention
  • Responses to Joint Commission and other survey standards

HAP’s work on patient and family engagement in the hospital setting has not halted during the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information, contact HAP’s PFE project manager, Janette Bisbee, who continues to work with hospitals to provide patient-centric care by providing an educational and informational platform while addressing COVID-19 questions, experiences, barriers, and concerns.

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