The Fundamental Link to Patient Experience: Communication
By David Brown, CEO and Founder, VOX Telehealth
For those working in healthcare, I hate to break it to you, but most patients really don’t want to see you. Patients avoid seeking care because healthcare is scary. They do not want their blood drawn, undergo a procedure, or keep up with the demands of complex care. Unfortunately, nearly everyone, whether personally or through family member or friend, has experienced the anxiety associated with an episode of care. To help ease the fears of patients and their loved ones, the patient experience needs to be a priority.
Despite the common misconceptions, patient experience is not just about making people happy. A stay in the hospital will never be like a stay at a five-star resort because most patients do not want to be there. While the accommodations and food still matter, the patient experience encompasses much more. Every interaction throughout the patient journey, even before the patient enters the hospital, impacts a patient’s perception of their care. Throughout their experience, patients want to know they are safe; they are in good, competent hands; and they are being cared for as a person, not just a diagnosis.
Dr. Thomas H. Lee, Chief Medical Officer of Press Ganey says this of patient experience: “Patients evaluate their care experiences based on an inter-related stream of quality indicators that include perceived safety and quality of their care, teamwork and commitment of caregivers, and the extent to which their needs are met.”
Ensuring safe, quality care that is coordinated and meets patients’ needs relies heavily on one factor— communication. For a positive patient experience, internal and external communication must be optimized.
In order to provide safe, quality care, the provider team needs to effectively communicate and coordinate the care of their patient. Mistakes happen when there are gaps in care. With appropriate communication, every member of the care team understands what the patient needs and is working together towards a positive clinical outcome.
Ensure your team is all on the same page and working collaboratively in the best interest of the patient by implementing:
- Multi-disciplinary team meetings/huddles
- Instruction on proper utilization of notes within EHR
- Intranet or other internal messaging areas
- Standardized protocols with clear rules for escalation
- Defined set of tools (email, text, instant messaging, phone) with updated and preferred contact information
Communication with the patient and family should not be forgotten either. Patients and their families want their fears addressed, and if possible, eased. They want to share their concerns, understand what is going on, and be aware that the provider team is on top of their care. They also want to receive the proper education to ensure they are prepared and on the path to recovery once discharged. For providers, communication with the patient and the family helps address these needs, but also provides the insight to determine the correct care path for each unique patient.
Improve your communication with patients and their families to make sure their needs are being met by requiring:
- Staff to ask how the patient and their family want to be contacted (Phone, email, text)
- Inclusion of more than one member of the family on communications
- Adherence to standardized protocols with clear rules for escalation
- Ongoing education on communication tactics, including being repetitive and avoiding medical jargon, among others
- Use of visuals to guide patients when appropriate
There’s no question, greater communication is a good thing when it comes to healthcare. Solutions, such as VOX Telehealth, that facilitate communication both internally among the care team and externally with the patient and their family should be utilized. They can foster better teamwork for safe, quality care and a better relationship with the patient and family to adequately meet their needs. With enhanced communication throughout an entire episode of care, healthcare can be a little less scary, resulting in a better patient experience.
About the Author
David Brown is the Chief Executive Officer and Founder of VOX Telehealth. He brings more than 20 years of entrepreneurial experience spanning several industries, including behavioral healthcare, technology, banking, and retail. Prior to founding VOX Telehealth, David spent 10 years overseeing patient engagement for a multi-state behavioral healthcare practice, and understands the importance of connectivity and programs that engage patients in a meaningful and effective way.
About VOX Telehealth
VOX Telehealth was founded to improve patient outcomes by redefining the patient experience and recovery model. Through a state-of-the art platform, VOX delivers procedure-specific, full episode-of-care engagement solutions that provide education, coordination, and monitoring through industry leading content, proprietary SmartTasks™ and a customizable alert escalation and notification system. Engaging the patient throughout their pre-op phase, as well as through transition of care and recovery, patients are connected and accountable, leading to greater satisfaction, improved outcomes, and reduced cost of care. For more information, visit www.voxtelehealth.com.