Sharing Really is Caring: New Tools Keep Patients and Families Informed, Healthy and Happy

Ever feel neglected? Like someone you’re counting on doesn’t care enough to pay attention?

It’s a bad feeling no matter what the situation. It’s downright hazardous when it happens in healthcare.

At Hospital Impact, healthcare consultant Anthony Cirillo explores the unfortunate instinct by some hospitals to tune out patients. It’s almost as if they worry that being too attentive or having and providing too much information will increase patient expectations and caregiver workload. He also shares some wise words about how to establish and maintain a responsive, attentive culture in a hospital.

Here’s another good perspective from hospital executive Darlene A. Cunha on responsiveness and the patient experience, this time focused on the importance of involving the family when determining a care plan. It’s an important additional reminder that the patient isn’t on an island but is often part of a team of caring family members and friends.

We’ve talked about this inclination to withhold care information before in “Who’s Afraid of a Patient Itinerary.” We’ve heard people ask the question of whether hospitals would actually want patients and families to have a clear, interactive calendar of all patient care activities and procedures. The premise: If the hospital doesn’t deliver the care outlined in the itinerary, patients and families might complain. We consider that an astonishingly short-sited perspective, reflecting a culture that resists accountability and loses focus on the patients’ needs and experience.


Giving family or friends access to the patient itinerary helps the support system informed and involved in their loved one’s care. When shared by the patient, the current day schedule helps family and friends understand the patient’s availability and what services are planned. The also can better plan for the patient’s ultimate discharge home or to another care setting.

We and our hospital partners fundamentally believe both the patient and hospital benefit when the patient is fully informed of his or her care plan and activities. Patients are better prepared to have effective and meaningful communication with their caregivers. By making this information easily available, the hospital demonstrates its commitment to open communication between patients and caregivers.

That fueled the concept of the Patient Itinerary, which we have collaborated with our partner hospitals to create. A patient can use a personal device such as a smartphone, tablet or laptop to view important information about his or her day, including:

  • My scheduled orders for today and my pending, unscheduled orders
  • Activities my nurse or physician has added to my schedule
  • My targeted or planned discharge date and time
  • Messages to and from my family and friends
  • My nursing unit and bed and my current location
  • The names of the nurses and physicians responsible for my care

The hospital can select what information to display and how. Patients can also choose to share all or part of their itineraries family or friends. Patients can see when their schedules change throughout the day and when orders are added, rescheduled or cancelled.

And it affects the bottom line, too. HCAHPS surveys rate nurse and physician communication with their patients–scores that ultimately help determine reimbursements. It’s time all hospitals, in the name of oft-cited “patient-centered care,” embrace complete transparency in care activities and patient and family involvement in their care.

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