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Finding Innovative Solutions for Patient Communication Issues

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Once again an alarm has been sounded about critical communication issues between providers and patients. This week’s Healthcare Informatics includes an article entitled “Report: Hospitals Concerned with Clinical Communication during Patient Discharges”. We agree that communication is an critical issue throughout the patient’s journey, whether it begins in the doctor’s office or at the hospital admissions counter.

According to the article, “Ninety-five percent of hospitals in a recent survey expressed concerns about communication inefficiencies during the patient discharge process.” Those inefficiencies can adversely affect health, especially when it comes to important matters like medication adherence. Forty-five percent of hospitals expressed concerns about the complexity of communications needed to accurately identify and “…resolve potential conflicts for all patient medications prescribed or taken before, during, and after hospitalization.” In other words, communication within the care team can directly impact patients’ ability to understand proper medication dosing after they go home.

Hospitals also expressed concerns about the adverse effects of poor communication on other patient care issues, including:

  • Coordination of external community-based resources required to support patients, family members, and caregivers post-discharge (85 percent of respondents).
  • Communicating and collaborating with members of multidisciplinary teams (80 percent).
  • Efficiently and safely transitioning patients from one medical service to another; (65 percent).
  • Coordinating with ancillary departments for patient procedures and tests, and then coordinating their transfers (50 percent).

Sean Kelly, M.D., chief medical officer at Imprivata, the company that conducted the survey added, “The respondents to this survey reiterate an unfortunate truth—some care settings are burdened with outdated, inefficient communications technologies and processes that not only slow down care providers, but also jeopardize the safety of patients.”

Getting It Right The First Time

All of this makes us think about the importance of face-to-face communication with patients in the doctor’s office. Whether it is registering them, setting up preauthorization, insurance verification or offering them a written prescription, communication is essential for patient understanding and compliance.

When it comes to setting up a patient pay schedule, nothing can replace transparency and clear, in-person communication of the patient’s responsibility. It can engage the patient in understanding what services are covered by their insurance and which are not. It can also empower them to take part in the development of patient pay arrangements and lead to more successful compliance with that plan.

Of course this communication cannot take place unless the physician’s office has insurance verification at the time of the patient’s visit and staff has a viable patient pay estimate in hand. Implementing the latest revenue cycle management software gives staff these capabilities and insights. It improves cash flow, accounts receivables, and can reduce collection costs.

Finding The Right Solutions for Value-based Reimbursements

As we move from fee-for-service to value-based reimbursements, incorporating leading-edge technology into infrastructure becomes even more essential. Analytics must provide the data necessary to analyze claims success and manage denial appeals. Staff must be able to understand and rely upon the technology for everyday use. Interoperability is essential to facilitate office interactions with affiliated hospitals, specialists and outpatient services. Care coordination must be streamlined and technology must support referrals and other patient care functions. These issues were also discussed in a recent post by Open Minds, entitled, Taking A Functional Approach To Succeeding With Value-Based Reimbursement

Healthcare has to move forward quickly to learn how to communicate and improve provider-patient understanding. One British hospital went so far as to consult with the Ferrari F1 pit crew to develop better communication techniques and manage life-and-death details during patient hand-offs.

Hospitals in the United States can adopt a similar mindset, and our newly enhanced patient access solution, iBridge, can be an invaluable tool. Learn more here in our informative new video:  

InfinxFinding Innovative Solutions for Patient Communication Issues

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