How to Improve Communication between Physicians and Patients

How to Improve Communication between Physicians and Patients

Patient engagement is an ideal healthcare situation in which people are well-informed about -- and motivated to be involved -- in their own medical care.

According to the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), patients who are engaged and act as decision-makers in their own medical care tend to be healthier and to have better outcomes.

Research has shown that patient engagement initiatives have resulted in reduced hospital visits, decreased morbidity, improved adherence to treatment as well as improved quality of life for patients living with chronic diseases.

Patient engagement technologies help improve and increase communication between physicians/care teams and patients and ultimately increase care satisfaction

As a physician you need to know your patients:

Some patients are coming to see you when they have no interest to be there .They are here because the insurance requires them or they have a nagging spouse.

Then there are patients who want to take charge of their health. This could be because of a family history or could be because they have a new goal in mind like getting married/ new baby on the way.

It’s important that you think of your patients as people, they have different roles , different needs, different levels of understanding and they have different health challenges. So you support them by giving some control over their health.

One way is to allow patients to better monitor their own health outside the hospital or doctor's office. Like checking their blood sugar themselves and keeping a log and after some time patients know what food groups bumps their blood sugar high.

Attention should be given to their culture as that can shape their behavior.

When setting goals with your patients talk to them about what is relevant to their life for example not just talking to them about LDL / cholesterol but also to tell them what you would be able to go and eat out with your family and also how to enjoy family meals at home too.

Also instead of 35 year old Obese patient: 35 year old with obesity sounds much better.

Figuring out what their Imitation is:

Is it working night shifts or transport or of course the big one which is money.

Also patients who don’t have transportation and work long hours can’t come in office can be offered digital appointment. Email can be a good one too.

In our office we offer: Making appointments online

Our patients check in digitally on iPad.

They are part of decision making that reduces risks and increases patient satisfaction.

Giving them access to health info and their labs

Using bilingual patient info is always helpful. Use of translation phone lines or interpreters are good too. Helping patients track progress toward goals, either individually or as part of a group of likeminded individuals, can be extremely valuable in driving engagement. Community engagement activities such as walks on Saturday mornings at board walk are also helpful.

“Farm Stand” is another project where fruits and vegetables are sold at nominal price in front of Hospital parking lot for both patients and health care workers.

It’s up to us as physicians to continue to reflect and improve our interactions and invite patients to be fully engaged in taking charge of their health.

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