On Wednesday March 29, 2017, at the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA) Spring 2017 Conference, Heather Schacht Reisinger, PhD, MAA, medical anthropologist, associate director for Research and Core Investigation for the Center for Comprehensive Access and Delivery Research and Evaluation (CADRE) at the US Department of Veterans Affairs, and associate professor in the General Internal Medicine Division at University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, discussed the importance of the patient in preventing healthcare-associated infections (HAIs).
According to Dr. Reisinger, “Patient engagement, obviously, is part of this much broader trend. It’s been linked with health literacy for patients; …trying to increase shared decision-making between providers and their patients; [and] trying to increase self-care and self-management of health conditions, particularly chronic conditions,” among other things.
Through her past work, Dr. Reisinger has found that patient engagement and activation have proven to be successful forms of intervention in healthcare. Not only have these methods helped patients with substance abuse addictions recover, they have also helped patients with hypertension switch to thiazide treatment. However, Dr. Reisinger herself has not participated in any research regarding patient engagement to prevent HAIs.
Dr. Reisinger started her discussion with a definition of patient engagement, which she quoted from a 2011 book written by Angela Coulter, PhD, entitled Engaging Patients in Healthcare
: “To promote and support active patient public involvement in health and healthcare and to strengthen their influence on healthcare decisions, at both the individual and collective levels.” Dr. Reisinger referenced this specific definition because it highlights the patient’s healthcare needs; after all, the patient is the one receiving the care.
The priorities of the patient, according to Dr. Reisinger, include “access to timely, reliable, effective, and safe healthcare when needed, [which is] very directly related to infection control and prevention.” Patients also need “adequate information and support to participate in decisions that affect them,” as well as “empathy, dignity, and respect” from their healthcare providers. Patients also value the chance to have treatment and healthcare management options to choose from.