Cancer patients can’t be expected to remember everything they’re told, especially when feeling anxious or scared. They may hear everything you say and remember none of it. They might nod comprehension but understand only parts of what you tell them.
In 2019, more than 1.7 million Americans will hear doctors tell them they have cancer.1 Despite what they are told about their conditions and protocols to follow, in those first few days and months patients will likely only worry about being cured. Their loved ones will ask a lot of questions. It’s a recipe for confusion, fear and frustration.
Cancer is a complex disease with a multifaceted treatment approach for many patients. Navigating through the diagnosis and recommended treatment options while managing the side effects of treatments and maintaining quality of life can be quite challenging.
In fact, the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) has reported that cancer care in particular requires patient-centered communications.2
To make sure they’re doing all they can to help patients, hospital administrators and oncology care teams have embraced patient-centered care. It’s an approach that has doctors and patients communicating with understanding, and families involved in making decisions about the patient’s care.
Educational reinforcement is vital
Education is a key component of patient-centered care. Educated patients who truly understand their diagnosis and treatment options are better equipped to navigate a potentially lengthy and expensive journey to recovery.
The Wellness Network developed its new oncology library with patient centeredness as its core focus. From understanding a diagnosis and various treatment options, to coping with the side effects of treatment and getting proper nutrition, the library’s resources can empower patients to take an active role in their care.
Patients can also find out what to expect and how to prepare for living with cancer while learning from the experiences of others who also are fighting the same or a similar battle.
Families and caregivers who share in making decisions with the patient can gain a better understanding of the patient’s situation and have more informed questions and opinions. Shared decision-making is integral to care and benefits both the patient and the care team.
Our diverse platforms for delivering education help care teams meet the patient wherever they are – in the hospital, an ambulatory setting, or at home. Care teams can prescribe education and tailor information to patients at specific points along the care path – waiting room channels, in-hospital television channels, online, and on tablets. Patients, families and caregivers have easy access.
Tailored information is an important aspect of patient-centered communication. Hospital services need to be flexible in meeting the patient’s needs. Care teams and patients benefit from resources that reflect an individual patient’s values, preferences, and desires. That includes taking into account emotional support to alleviate fear and anxiety, and addressing potential mental health concerns.
Regulation will drive change
It’s not just the patient and families who want helpful information. Governmental regulations increasingly seek to put the patient first. Patient-centeredness is fundamental to new patient support measures being implemented by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS). And the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has released a new report that includes measures for how it will support patient-centered care.3
But even if government wasn’t moving to enact reform, patient-centered care simply makes sense. It’s in the best interest of the patient. Patients benefit, and care teams that provide patients with strategies to manage the disease through every step can see their HCAHPS scores increase.
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