Poor Communication – The black hole.

High percentages of sick Americans site poor communication of results, poor communication between doctors, and poor communications after hospitalization.

WHY x 5
WHY:  Many times providers verbally communicate but patients don’t remember.  Sometimes, providers intend to communicate but they forget.
WHY:  Providers feel that communication is part of the job they get paid to do.  They feel that the time to write down results or call or is not needed since the patient could just call the office if there was a question. Providers sometimes feel that a normal test does not require communication.
WHY:  Providers do not put a high priority on calling results.
WHY: Providers believe a call to their office is not difficult.  Only a small percent of patients will call for results.  Results done at hospital may not be available to office nurses.  It takes a lot of time to call another provider.  Hospital data may not be automatically sent  to the office.
WHY:  Providers really don’t know how long it takes to get results on the phone.  Most do not have a system to make sure communications get done. It is difficult to justify the cost of such a system since billing has already been done.  Using the Internet would be efficient but is not secure without special software.

Communication is a 2-way street.  Providers need to be more explicit about results and follow through if they say they will call or send results.  Patients should ask who to call in the office about results not currently available — they should be willing to use electronic means of getting the information if available.  Electronic medical record (EMR) companies need to focus on tagging information that needs to go to the patient and always integrate a patient portal with EMR products.

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