HCAHPS questions: Before giving you any new medicine, how often did the hospital staff tell you what the medicine was for? How often did the hospital staff describe possible side effects in a way you could understand?
An uninformed patient leads to lower patient satisfaction and lower adherence to their medications post-discharge which often leads to costly readmission. Studies show that when nurses interactively educate patients about their medications, side effects and treatments, the more satisfied the patient feels about the nursing care provided. This also increases compliance with medication and treatment plans which can lower non-compliant readmission. With annual costs associated with readmissions surpassing 17 billion dollars per year, hospitals have a strong financial interest in ensuring that patients are well informed about their new medications and home treatment plans.
Unfortunately, very few patients can recall the medication information they received when discharged, either because of information overload, inability to focus due to pain medication or just not understanding the information they’re given.
To address this issue, Ahrens and Wirges (2013) implemented an “Always Ask” campaign that encouraged patient participation in their care. Patients were prompted to “Always Ask” their nurses about new medications they were receiving. In turn, nurses were expected to employ the teach-back method in educating their patients. The campaign proved successful as post-intervention patient satisfaction scores increased from 29.7% to 77.3%.
West-Com’s Patient CareBoard allows for the display of new medications prescribed to the patient during a hospital stay. It can also display additional messages that include precautions or “Always Ask” statements to encourage the patient to take a more proactive role in their care plan. The medication information can be imported directly from the EMR or entered directly by the care provider. It is continually displayed during the patient’s hospital stay to help care providers educate patients and family members about the medication and care plans.
Communicating with patients and family members about new medications helps prevent medical errors, such as omission, duplication, incorrect dose or timing, and adverse interactions or reactions. It has been reported that successful medication reconciliation prevents the potential for harm in 75% of cases. Patients and family members can identify medical errors that may go undetected without their involvement. The Patient CareBoard is one tool that is designed to involve family members with the patient care plan, including new medications, precautions and allergies. Patient safety increases when this information is shared with other nurse call applications including the Unit CareBoard and West-Com’s Workflow Station.