Patient interaction with healthcare staff is an important part of the healing process. Patients should be aware, from the start of their treatment until it is over, that their healthcare team is not only involved in, but actively interested in their long term healthcare journey.
The delivery of healthcare services used to be immensely paternalistic. Decisions for patients were made by their physicians and associated healthcare team members with or without their express consent. The view popular among healthcare practitioners of the past was one of paternalism and a perceived level of incompetence among patients. It was thought that patients could not possibly understand information relevant to their prognosis and treatment options, and thus those decisions ought to instead be made for them by trained professionals.
On a social level, physicians used to hold a semi-deified position in society. Medical knowledge was not necessarily publicly available, and patients would defer their judgement to their doctors rather than risk making a mistake. There was an expectation that patients would not participate in their care decisions. Patient interaction between the patient and their healthcare team was thus limited. Patient privacy and dignity was also commonly not much of a concern to healthcare practitioners. This is not new in the history of medicine. Patient interaction with healthcare staff was also not viewed as particularly important.
The end of paternalistic attitudes in medicine has been a slow, steady process. However, it has been incredibly positive for patients. Giving patients more information and more say over their unique healthcare related challenges and goals leads to better outcomes. Patient centered care has been shown to lead to more positive feelings between patients and healthcare staff, and is correlated with less usage of the medical system overall. It also tends to lead to lower stress levels among the healthcare provision team. Rather than working against the patient in a paternalistic, adversarial relationship, staff can work with the patient towards the same goal of restoring and maintaining wellness.
Hospital privacy screens can help to facilitate positive patient interaction. Plain printed Kwickscreens can be deployed into a patient room with dry erase markers. Patients can then use the screen as a form of artistic self expression, to leave updates for staff or family members about their unique signs and symptoms, or to make requests of staff while they catch up on much needed rest.
Conversely, staff can also utilize the screens to interact with their patients. They can leave notes of encouragement, inform the patient of the daily treatment itinerary, leave notes for housekeeping staff at the client’s request, or even give patients valuable tools such as pain or fatigue charts for them to use.
Patients can find themselves on their own for much of their day due to high patient loads and overcrowding in North American hospitals. Hospital privacy screens can serve as a valuable tool to facilitate patient interaction with staff and their support team. They can serve to give patients a sense of agency and control over their healthcare journey without a prohibitive cost to the institution.