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How to improve the patient experience through interconnected communications

Perry Price, President, Chief Executive Officer and Founder, Revation Systems

The “Triple Aim” approach to healthcare has been a key driver in recent developments within the health industry. Most healthcare organizations agree that enhancing the patient experience, improving the overall health of the population and reducing per capita costs remain the highest priorities for the future of healthcare. So, how do healthcare organizations accomplish these goals? Which objective should they address first?

Consider the following: A patient goes in for a major surgery and is satisfied with his overall experience with hospital staff and administration. He feels motivated to follow-up as his provider recommended and avoids lengthy complications and possible readmission. This follow-through greatly improves his health and reduces costly medical expenses. By using interconnected communications, the hospital has succeeded in achieving all three healthcare goals.  

When relationships are at the center of interactions between patient and provider, patients are more likely to listen, follow health instructions and make follow-up appointments. Building and maintaining relationships in healthcare paves the way for deeper patient engagement and an improved patient experience. 

Implement technology to further reach and impact

The rapid growth of technology has completely transformed communications in all aspects of daily life. Today, communication is instantaneous and convenient, making it vital to the growth of numerous industries. In the healthcare industry, for example, both providers and patients rely on technology to increase overall satisfaction.

As more hospitals adopt electronic health records (EHRs), providers have the ability to review a patient’s medical history with just one click of a button, increasing productivity and reducing wait time. The use of video visits is another example of how technology is changing the way providers reach patients. The ability to queue patients from a portal and treat them from a secure cloud-based communications system eliminates time traveling between exam rooms and is user-friendly for both patient and provider.

Communication to improve quality care

Communication in healthcare is perhaps one of the most important elements in improving the patient experience. The absence of proper communication can be detrimental to the health of a patient. According to the 2016 CMS Quality Strategy Report from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), nearly 1 in 5 Medicare beneficiaries discharged from the hospital is readmitted within 30 days. Medication errors and poor communication are the key drivers for this readmission. By improving communication between patient and provider before, during and after appointments, hospitals can avoid costly readmissions.

As technology advances, the traditional methods of transferring information to patients, including paper pamphlets and phone calls, are just not as effective. With increased adoption of email, interactive websites and on-call resources, healthcare organizations have a variety of communication channels they can use to provide relevant and appropriate information to patients.

 Collaboration for a simplified experience

When communication is strong between patient and provider and both parties are armed with the right information, patients are empowered to make their own healthcare decisions. Increased collaboration between physicians, specialists and healthcare administrators is also enhancing the patient experience. Now, healthcare providers can quickly access and exchange patient information with other clinics through EHRs. They can even collaborate directly with specialists in an exam room for more accurate treatment options. Effective collaboration among healthcare providers is key to expediting the diagnosis process and increasing the likelihood of a quality healthcare experience.

Building and maintaining relationships

As technology continues to transform the healthcare industry, many people — providers and patients alike — are concerned that these technological advancements will uproot the personal relationships developed between patients and physicians. However, technology actually has the power to strengthen these relationships.

Offering communication options through multiple channels creates a people-centric approach, putting the patient back at the center of healthcare. The patient is no longer just a “receiver” of information, and the provider is no longer just the “distributor” of a service. Instead, the two parties are able to keep an open channel of communication through email, video chat and/or SMS, strengthening the level of care as well as the relationship.

To meet the goals of the “Triple Aim” approach in healthcare, improving the patient experience is the bottom line. When patients feel connected to their providers through proper communication and collaboration, they are more likely to have a positive experience — which ultimately leads to improved health and reduced medical expenses.