Patient-centred Care in Radiography - Finding the Right Flow
Updated: Dec 7, 2022
Patient-centred care: it's a bit of a buzz word around the wards these days. But are we REALLY practicing it in the world of radiography?
I know when my worklist is full, my priority tends to shift to keeping on top of the workload so I don't run too far behind. This isn't necessarily UN-patient-caring of me...I think it is important to run on time so patients aren't kept waiting too long. But naturally when we try to ramp up scan numbers, our time spent with patients diminishes.
When we don't have the time to fully investigate a patient's medical history, concerns or intended health outcomes, how much of the centred-ness of the patient care are we taking out of the equation? Is the patient even being involved in the decision to have a scan, and the exact protocol being used? Are they really being informed of all the risks and benefits before getting on the table? Are we assuming the responsibility of this onto the patient's referring doctor?
If we strip back what patient care actually is, there are two main elements at play:
The individual healthcare professional's availability and ability to provide care to their patients
The healthcare institution's protocols and resources that allow it's workers to provide care to their patients
The overlap between these two elements is where patient care resides:
Individual healthcare professionals can increase their ability and availability through numerous training practices and experience. This will improve the care provided to their patients to an extent, however there comes a point where no matter of how much ability and availability an individual healthcare professional has for providing patient care, outcomes will be limited if the institution does not provide sufficient resources or relevant protocols to allow for this care to be provided, and vice versa.
Looking back on this diagram, there is still an important piece of the puzzle missing - THE PATIENT! This is where the concept of patient-centred care comes in. All of the effort and resources put into patient care may fall short if it isn't tailored to the individual patient's needs and values.
This diagram may seem arbitrary, but it is actually quite easy to put into clinical practice. Next time you feel that a patient of yours isn't getting the care they need, ask yourself:
Am I falling short in my availability and ability to provide them care? Am I feeling stressed, burnt out or dissociated from my job? Does something need to change in my attitude or situation?
Is the insititution/organistation I am working in setting me and my patients up for the best and most realistic outcomes? Are they overbooking patients? Are we under-staffed? Do we have outdated equipment?
Am I listening to my patients? Am I applying a one-size-fits-all approach with my patient greetings? Am I flagging any patients who may need extra care, such as patients suffering from anxiety or mental health issues?
Unfortunately there are no exact equations for applying the right amount of patient-centred care, because it is - by it's nature - specific to each individual scenario. There are many factors at play, and they all need to be factored in to reach the optimum level of flow. I use the word flow here rather than balance, because "balance" suggests the situation is stagnant. "Flow" suggests a level of adjustment and response is required as the situation presents itself. Finding the right flow can take practice and experience, which is why you should start implementing this TODAY! The sooner you start, the better the outcomes for everyone involved.