Posts Tagged with patient communication

posted by adgrooms on June 7, 2019

When a patient makes an office visit, the provider may send home information, prescribe medicine, and schedule a follow-up appointment. What patients lack are points of accountability and reminders to help stay on track in order to make health improvements. Patient care should not have to stop at the clinic door, and it does not have to add to provider workload. In fact, messaging can reduce it.

A recent review of studies on SMS health reminders showed a range of positive outcomes for patients. Automated messaging improves compliance through appointment reminders, immunizations, and prescription reminders. Behavioral reminders for smoking cessation and diet reminders for patients with diabetes or heart disease are also shown effective.

The study references articles showing "major financial savings" in the reduction of missed appointments, alone. Reminders can be automated for frequency, duration, and helpful custom information, such as addressing each person by their first name. Even two-way messaging can be automated using chatbot technology. This can be the first line of communication to answer patient questions, with a path to escalate to a provider, if needed. More sophisticated integration of messaging with EHR can measure the effectiveness of messages to hone the system.

SMS is not encrypted and not a secure method of communication. Although text messaging is an accepted daily risk for most people, reminders must be crafted to contain no PHI. Care should be taken to obtain permission to use this channel of communication. It is also important to inform each patient of the risks to their personal information and the types of messages you intend to send. Examples of the types of messages and the information they will contain will be helpful for patients to make an informed decision.

Automated messaging is a low-cost method of communication that has been shown to improve patient compliance. There are still more areas where this approach can be explored.

posted by adgrooms on May 24, 2019

A trip to the hospital can be a stressful and overwhelming experience. While the patient is already unwell and concerned, they are also receiving information and guidance about their current and future care from physicians and therapists. Upon discharge, the patient or caretakers must take this information and continue self-treatment at home. But how is the patient to keep track and apply all of the advice and instructions - some spoken, some printed?

Patient portals may contain notes about the visit, but often don’t have detailed information that a patient was given in person. Many patients lose printed discharge information and reasonably resort to looking for the information online. However, this is lacking the specific input from the various specialists and therapists that all provided direction.

An ideal solution would be an after-visit summary that consolidates information from all points of care and a patient could access at any time in their portal. Of course, producing these notes for every patient in language that they could understand would be extremely time-consuming for a physician. This is another area that could be helped by dictation systems. Capturing the instructions as each care provider speaks them to the patient and providing both the audio and transcribed text would help a patient remember what was conveyed.

Additional information could be automatically supplied with libraries of information tied to medical coding. Instead of asking patients to remember to ask for key information and keep track of the answers, these formats could become electronic templates and filled with specific details. This could be further enhanced with the ability for physicians to include additional instructions as needed. The information library could be made take into account the specifics of a patient such as prescription information, health numbers to monitor and aim for, and dietary instructions/goals.

Outcomes can be improved with better patient discharge information. Providing the information in an understandable and accessible way can benefit communication and help a patient take an active role in their recovery.