October 12, 2012 | | Comments 0
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Heading down the virtual road

An article on Advance for Nurses this week explores the dynamic between the well-informed patient and the well-educated nurse, weighing the pros and cons of patients who thoroughly research their symptoms and diagnoses prior to an appointment. On the one hand, patients who take charge of their health can be more collaborative and active in their treatment, but on the other hand these well-educated patients may challenge nurses about prescriptions and treatment options. According to the article, nurses with well-informed patients should listen carefully and establish a dialogue with patients and their families to avoid any potential aggression that might stem from disagreements about care options.

The article also points to telemedicine and the advances in technology that allow patients to communicate with nurses and other healthcare professionals easily and get quick answers to any questions they may have forgotten to ask during an appointment. It also allows nurses to monitor patients with chronic diseases more effectively.

While the internet might improve the ways in which patients can communicate with their nurses, it could also lead to increased expectations for round-the-clock care and instantaneous feedback, which might not always be possible with a hospitals’ budget and resources. Adding a virtual element to the work nurses perform daily makes for greater responsibility and accountability, especially if individual nurses are expected to maintain email communications with patients. What happens if a nurse forgets to check her email, or sees an email from a patient but does not respond quickly? Technology has the potential to improve healthcare, but it seems certain precautions should be taken when implementing telemedicine programs or when interacting with patients who have conducted extensive online research about their diagnoses.

Does your organization encourage online interaction with patients? Have you seen an increase in patient engagement in light of online communication and research? Leave us a comment below!

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Filed Under: patient satisfaction

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About the Author: Katrina Gravel is an editor for the Education division of HCPro.

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