Before a nurse hands off a patient to an incoming nurse at any of LifePoint Health's 72 hospitals, the two have an in-depth conversation with the patient and family members at the bedside.
The systemwide protocol is an opportunity for inpatients to ask questions about their care and to ensure they are up to speed on their current health status. The incoming nurse is also made aware of the patient's unique circumstances and needs during the interaction. "It promotes patient engagement in a way that could never be achieved before," said Dr. Rusty Holman, LifePoint's chief medical officer.
But the idea for the protocol came from an unconventional source: a former patient. He sits on the hospital chain's corporate-level Patient and Family Advisory Board and shared his positive experience when nurses spoke with him before a shift change during a recent stay. "Rusty ran with it," said Laura Evans, a co-chair of the advisory board and a former LifePoint patient.
Evans and five other former LifePoint patients meet three times a year to discuss a range of issues across the system from quality initiatives like a recent hand-washing campaign and even larger concerns such as physician burnout. This is in addition to the many hospital-level advisory boards that meet monthly across the system.
Holman said the patient perspective is vital to improve care because patients can offer insights that probably wouldn't occur to clinical staff. "In the past, the healthcare industry has made certain assumptions about what patients and families want," he said. "It was important to us to have their voices in the room when we are making decisions so we know what quality of care actually means to them."