American Nurses Training Association
Ask Me Anything
The Ask Me Anything campaign was developed to improve communication among clinical staff and clients. A simple button stating Ask Me Anything is worn to remind and encourage questions from patients to increase safety and health outcomes.
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Importance of Communication
From primary to tertiary healthcare settings communication is a vital aspect. The most important safety tool that all members of the healthcare team have at their immediate disposal is communication. Everyone must be accountable to speak up if an unsafe or potentially unsafe practice is evident, regardless of position. There's no part of the healthcare "experience" from admissions (history), informed consents, and discharge instructions that does not rely on accurate levels of communication.
The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations also recognizes the importance of communication and have addressed this topic in several of their National Patient Safety Goals.
The goals are the following:
Goal #2E: Implement a standardized approach to 'handoff' communications, including an opportunity to ask and respond to questions
Goal #13: Encourage patients' active involvement in their own care as a patient safety strategy
Goal #13A: Define and communicate the means for patients and their families to report concerns about safety and encourage them to do so.
Another organization that found this topic critical is the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). To encourage the use of questions as a means of communication they developed a 60 second entertaining video clip. Nurses and doctors sing and dance as they explain why...Questions Are The Answers!
Ask Me Anything Campaign
The Ask Me Anything campaign is a very simple, minimal cost, and effective way to meet the goal of improving communication. A simple button with the words "Ask Me Anything" over the picture of a universal recognizable medical caudus is worn by any clinical personal. Seeing this button being worn prompts clients to ask any questions about their healthcare.
The strategy of this campaign is use of a button as a prompt for providers to address HEALTH LITERACY in EVERY clinical encounter. Brochures with example questions for patients to ask are also provided to patient and families. The use of the picture of the button on the brochure triggers their memory about questions they want to ask when they see the button on a clinician!
The button also encourages communication and questions between clinicians and staff such as nurse to nurse, doctor to nurse, etc.
Benefits for Staff, Hospitals,and Patients
The Ask Me Anything campagin benefits everyone.
Clinical Staff & Hospitals:
Open communication prevents poor patient outcomes-deaths or injuries. Promotes trust in their clinicians by the public. Encouraging communication avoids litigation against physicians, hospital and clinicians.
Encourage them to act quickly on their own behalf. Interact with no shame or embarrassment at anytime! Participate further in decision making. Play a greater role in their health care. Follow agreed treatment regimens. Lessen their anxiety. Have more realistic expectations.
Example Policy and Procedure
Hospital Communication Policy/Procedure:
Purpose of policy: To improve overall communication between clinical staff and clients, by using button and brochures as prompts for health literacy in every clinical encounter.
Communication between two parties can be, but are not limited to, the following:
· client/patient to doctor, nurse, technician, nursing assistant, and other clinical staff
· client's family member to doctor, nurse, technician, nursing assistant, and other clinical staff
· clinical staff, nurse, doctor, etc. to another clinical staff
· clinical staff with the same job description, example nurse to nurse, doctor to doctor, etc.
Attend a 30 minute staff education meeting which discusses the topic of "Communication in the Healthcare Setting." Or View the slide-show presentation "Ask Me Anything" on the American Nurses Training Association website. Receive an Ask Me Anything button and wear daily in a visible area near your staff badge. Wear on outermost clothing, scrub top or lab coat if wearing one. Encourage patients and their families to ask questions regarding their health care by referring them to the Sample Question Brochures. Occasionally gesture to your button and ask, "Do you have any questions?" When asked a question by client or staff provide the most honest and accurate answer. If you do not know the answer let them know that you do not know the answer, but you will find out and then get back to them with the best answer.
Education, Handouts, and Presentation Materials
What makes the Ask Me Anything campaign effective is it's simplicity to understand and ease of use. Buttons can be distributed to staff, brochures can be given to patients upon admission, a brief slide show can be shown at a staff education meeting, and pocket cards can be given as a reminder of the importance to wear the button.
For every 8 hospital visits there are 250 visits made to a primary care healthcare facility. As you can gather from that statement it is also essential to provide encouragement of communication in these settings.
Providing patients with materials telling them to ask questions and communicate is not sufficient. Hospitals and staff need to encourage theses questions and communication constantly from admission to discharge. Leave no question unasked.
The single greatest error in healthcare is failure of communication. After an event has harmed a patient, the best risk management tool is support with open communication lines. Our code of ethics says as health care professionals we have a moral responsibility to be honest with our patients.