Patient communication is a two-way street between a patient and a healthcare provider. Open, honest, and clear communication helps patients get the best possible treatment.
However, several factors impact the ability of patients and doctors to communicate effectively, including cultural differences and mismatched expectations.
Poor communication can lead to adverse outcomes, including increased lengths of stay, readmissions, and dissatisfaction. That’s why physicians and support staff need to be intentional about adopting strategies to overcome these barriers to communication.
This blog will help you understand the importance of good patient communication and discuss the best ways to achieve it using technology.
Table of Contents
- Integrate Patient Portals
- Incorporate Secured Consent Forms
- Provide a Personalized Experience
- Collaborate Using the Internet of Things (IoT)
- Offer Patient Education Materials
1. Integrate Patient Portals
In healthcare settings, a personalized, two-way communication platform strengthens the doctor-patient relationship and improves health outcomes. That’s why it’s crucial to have a web portal or computer application that gives patients access to their medical records.
Aside from allowing patients to talk with their healthcare providers, a patient portal can be used to:
- schedule and confirm an appointment
- view prescriptions
- collect feedback
- receive important reminders
- access educational materials
- see billing information
- verify insurance eligibility
For example, the patient portal at Mayo Clinic allows patients to request prescription renewals, see test results, and send messages to their care team.
2. Incorporate Secured Consent Forms
A patient’s consent is required before a hospital or doctor can share their protected health information (PHI). Keep in mind that healthcare providers should comply with the requirements of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and other privacy laws. Otherwise, they may face penalties or even jail time.
It’s a must to use HIPAA-compliant patient consent forms in emails, text messages, or other electronic communications. Make sure that these forms are protected by encryption and other security measures that meet federal standards.
Why is this crucial? When patients are assured that their information is safe, they’re more likely to communicate openly.
3. Provide a Personalized Experience
Consumers today expect personalized experiences. They want their interactions with websites and apps to reflect their individual history, preferences, and interests. Personalized care is done by taking into account what matters to patients and their unique medical history.
Adopting a personalized approach to patient communication can improve health outcomes. If patients feel that their voice matters and that their provider cares about them as an individual, they’re more likely to follow through with treatment plans.
One way to provide a personalized patient experience is to use patient-generated health data (PGHD). PGHD includes data collected by patients themselves, such as fitness tracker data, patient-entered symptoms, and patient-reported outcomes. This data can be used to generate insights that help providers tailor their care to each patient.
4. Collaborate Using the Internet of Things (IoT)
Technology has made it easy for patients and doctors to share data from connected devices. It creates a more collaborative and effective way of addressing health issues.
There are many benefits to patients and doctors collaborating. Patients can become more actively involved in their healthcare process and be empowered to make decisions about their conditions.
Internet of Things (IoT) is one such technology. IoT devices are becoming more prevalent in healthcare as they can be used in various ways to improve patient communication.
For example, a patient’s weight could be monitored by a wearable IoT device and sent to their doctor as part of a regular report. This would allow the doctor to see if the patient is following their diet plan or if they need to make any adjustments.
Another example is a smart wristband that constantly monitors vitals such as heart rate and blood pressure. This information could be sent to the care team in real time, so any changes in the patient’s condition can be addressed immediately.
These devices collect patient data and share it with other devices and systems instantly.
5. Offer Patient Education Materials
Patient education is a key part of communication. Examples of patient education materials include videos, handouts, and pamphlets. These materials help patients understand specific medical conditions and what they can do to manage them.
These materials can explain a diagnosis, provide instructions for self-care, or answer frequently asked questions. They can be accessed electronically or in printed form.
Additionally, offering education materials will provide patients with a reference after they leave the facility. They can refer back to these materials when they have questions or need more information.
Goals of Patient Communication
Doctors must have a deep understanding of a patient’s illness, from diagnosis and prognosis to treatment. However, medical expertise is not enough when it comes to communicating with patients.
Physicians also need to know how to communicate with a patient. This requires social skills like active listening and expressing empathy. Healthcare workers should also make use of the technological tools mentioned in the previous section.
With all of these combined, medical professionals can achieve the objectives of patient communication:
Deliver timely and accurate medical information
Time is of the essence when it comes to patient communication. In emergencies, every second counts. Doctors and nurses need to be able to quickly and accurately communicate with each other and with their patients to provide the best care possible.
Providers and patients share responsibility for decisions made about their care. This includes decisions about tests, treatments, and follow-up care. When patients are involved in decision-making, they’re more likely to be satisfied with the care they receive and comply with their treatment plan.
Develop a good doctor-patient relationship
Patient-doctor communication is exchanging information between a physician and patient through a common system of symbols, signs, and behaviors. The communication process includes the words spoken and the nonverbal cues, such as facial expressions and body language.
Build trust and rapport
Patients who feel comfortable communicating with their doctor are more likely to follow treatment advice and report satisfaction with their care. In addition, excellent communication can help establish better long-term relationships between patients and physicians.
Enhance Patient Communication With Fill
Effective patient communication results in fewer missed appointments, better patient outcomes, and higher patient satisfaction. Prevent communication bottlenecks by managing and automating patient communications with Fill.
Fill is one of the best tools that enable a secure and more efficient method for filling out forms and consent, making it easy for patients to provide information to their providers, clinics, front offices, and care teams.
View our pricing plans and see how you can provide the best care to your patients by introducing Fill to your healthcare communications.