Keeping Patients In The Loop By Caring Out Loud

Caring Out Loud® is the process by which we proactively anticipate needs by communicating clearly (verbally or nonverbally) with others in a way that reduces any worry, uncertainty, or doubt. In short, it is narrating the process of care out loud and letting the customer or patient know what you’re doing as you’re doing it.

Patients say they no longer want to be treated as a one-way conversation. When we do our job tasks without explaining it first — whether it’s administering clinical care or conducting everyday business processes — patients may feel like they are being processed. They don’t want to feel like a transaction, they want to be included in the conversation of their care (at their level).

When we think about the Patient Experience journey, the Caring Out Loud® technique is one that we can easily apply in healthcare.

It can help:
1. Answer a question
2. Anticipate a need
3. Calm and reassure an anxious patient

Caring Out Loud® is a tool available to every care team member – clinical and non-clinical. It’s available to the housekeepers that clean patient rooms; the food and beverage team that delivers food that heals; the doctors, nurses, surgeons; the front desk reception; the technicians; the security guards, etc. It’s humbling to consider that no matter where you work in healthcare, no matter what you do, you have the power to make a connection with people in their darkest hour.

Healthcare is complex, costly, and the patient and their family may be confused and in pain. You have the power to help alleviate that confusion, explain that cost, or find someone who can help with the pain. There is some research that shows a direct correlation between smiling (and laughing) and an elevated pain threshold. Imagine how much less pain medicine would be needed if we had the ability to make patients smile more often?

One good example of Caring Out Loud® is the Bedside Shift Report.

In the past, shift changes used to occur at the nurse’s station or another place away from the patients. However, thanks to Joint Commission recommendations, many facilities have adopted the bedside shift report, where the person ending their shift and the person starting their shift do their handoff at the bedside, in front of the patient.

Creating this kind of moment with patients may be challenging at first but there is tremendous value in giving the patient the opportunity to hear the report, ask questions, and become familiar with the care team member taking over their care. And, there is value for both of the team members (the one leaving and the one just starting their shift) to know important information has been communicated and the handoff is complete.

In simple terms, the Caring Out Loud® technique is really about reducing fear, anxiety and trepidation by keeping patients in the loop. And it’s a technique that can be practiced by any member of the care team in every interaction.