Client centered care involves advocacy, empowerment, and respecting the client’s autonomy, voice, self-determination, and participation in decision-making. As RNs, RN(AP)s and RN(NP)s we play a critical role in reducing the information asymmetry between the health-care team and clients so that clients can make informed choices about their health. Review the questions below to gain a better understanding of information asymmetry, how it impacts your practice and steps you can take to reduce it.
What is information asymmetry?
Information asymmetry occurs when one party has more relevant information than another. In health- care it occurs:
- when health care providers have more knowledge about health and health-care services than their clients, and;
- when clients have more knowledge about their health status, values and treatment goals than their health-care providers.
How does it impact your practice?
Information asymmetry can impact decision making at all system levels. As registered nurses we play a key role in reducing information asymmetry when we utilize the nursing process in our practice to support client-centered decision-making. Client-centered practice expectations that support the reduction of information asymmetry include the responsibilities to:
- complete an assessment to determine the needs and circumstances of the client;
- create a treatment plan which takes into account the client’s needs, circumstances, preferences, values, abilities and culture;
- communicate with the client or their representative in a manner that enables the client or their representative to make informed decisions about their health-care;
- support the client in self-management of their health-care by way of the provision of information, resources and referrals to enable informed decision making by the client or their representative.
What can you do to reduce information asymmetry?
As registered nurses we have both the opportunity and responsibility to reduce information asymmetry in order to empower client-centered decision making. Actions we can take to promote the effective transfer of information between clients and providers include:
• ensuring assessment data includes information about the client’s needs as determined by the client, including their circumstances, preferences, values, abilities and culture;
• effectively communicating assessment data to the health-care team;
• ensuring enough time is allocated for the informed consent process;
• using tools to support client decision making such as client decision aids. More information can be found here;
• enabling client engagement at all levels of health-care decision making;
• applying strategies to optimize client health literacy.