Optimal Patient Communication-An Elusive Quality Metric in Healthcare Delivery

Healthcare Communication

Physician Speaks With Patient

Why is the “quality” metric such a “hot topic” in healthcare delivery?  Well, first and foremost, patients deserve quality. Secondly, reimbursement rates can vary based on quality assessments by adjudicating agencies.

Hitting healthcare providers straight in the pocketbook  on quality while simultaneously  adding an enormous influx of new patients may seem like cruel and unusual punishment. That said, While agencies  such as CMS and various national associations  do “quality” checks, there is a variable relative to “quality” that has proven elusive,  One such variable is  patient communication…..which is a two way street.

Professionals can certainly argue that the time spent with patients is so short (the ave. doc has a patient load of  3000 patients and 15 minutes  per appointment time allotted per patient) that the opportunity to really gain individual insights is truncated. This is particularly challenging with new patients with whom personal rapport was not established prior to the implementation of  healthcare regulations and increased patient loads.

The good news is that hospitals have created the “patient navigator” role that is designed to optimize patient communication and compliance to healthcare practices that lead to  better healthcare outcomes. allows nursing staff to follow up with patients by phone and provide more “one on one” consultations relative to prescriptions and other healthcare metrics like blood pressure, cholesterol and various screenings needed.

That said, consistent “deliverables” from such initiatives are not in place. Each healthcare facility generates their own plan of action. Therefore, consistency of information and outcomes across the patient portal may vary according to the specialty and diverse healthcare providers who are not “in network” (as a case in point).

Health Industry Marketing agrees with the voice of professional nurse navigators relative to the need for consistency in the navigation programs and need for consistent metrics.  For more see …http://voice.ons.org/news-and-views/nurse-navigators

More importantly, Patient Navigators and other  healthcare delivery staff  in hospitals, outpatient centers and private physician’s offices will benefit tremendously from an assessment of their own interpersonal communication styles.

The age old question, “Which comes first…the chicken or the egg” certain factors into optimal interactive patient communication. Without the right set of communication skills and education as to how to elicit the best communication dialogue with patients, quality metrics may be impacted.

More to think about…that’s for certain.

The Health Marketing Advisor

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