A recent report from the National Academy of Medicine titled, “The Future of Nursing 2020-2030: Charting a Path to Achieve Health Equity” highlighted the unique position nurses are in to reduce disparities in healthcare. They often are the first relationship the patient establishes with the care team and nurses are widely trusted. Nurses are also problem solvers who have both health knowledge and an understanding of how the healthcare ecosystem works.  

With a natural focus on people’s social needs, they may be the first person to realize a patient: 

  1. Is facing obstacles that are preventing them from accessing the care they need or maintaining a healthy lifestyle, 
  2. May need help understanding their care plan, and  
  3. Could benefit from learning about resources that are available to them.  

Empowering Nurses to Address Social Determinants of Health 

While nurses are well positioned to understand the needs of patients more easily than other clinicians, they are already burdened with heavy workloads. So how can you make sure they have tools and resources to make the most of the unique position they are in to reduce health inequities? 

  1. Ensure that information about how to access social, financial, and logistical resources can be easily delivered to patients. A lot of information can be quickly sent to a patient’s phone with a text-a-code or a QR code. With little time or effort, nurses can facilitate getting valuable information to a patient by directing them to a digital resource repository.
  2. Automate delivery of secure text messages that address social determinants of health. Develop a communication pathway that is uniquely tailored to patients who may be facing barriers to healthcare accessThe messaging pathway could be deployed automatically via a trigger or order set within the EHR, and deliver a series of messages to gather data and better understand each patient’s needs. Depending on how they respond to prompts, relevant resources could be sent to the patient. For instance, if a patient reports that taking time off work to travel to an appointment is difficult, they can be sent information regarding telehealth services and transportation assistance.
  3. Engage nurses when developing digital care pathways. They are experienced in explaining complex health-related information to patients in a way they can understand. They also see every day the challenges patients in their communities are facing – it could be language barriers, nutritional challenges, childcare issues, or health literacy. Nurse input will help make communication pathways better, build trust with patients, improve engagement, and bridge gaps in care. Nurses are, by training, excellent communicators with patients. They can help make patient communication pathways great – from timing, tone, content, and more, and their input is invaluable. 

Simple text-based technology can be an important tool in bridging gaps in care that many patients are facing. A flexible solution that can be tailored to meet unique patient needs will improve the patient experience and help you achieve better outcomes.

If you need strategies to engage and support patients every step of their healthcare journey, contact us today! 

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Twistle Software Brochure 2021