Healthcare News & Insights

Direct communication with patients improves quality of care

It’s easy to emphasize the clinical aspects of patient care, since that’s the main focus in most hospitals. But by spending so much time on physical health, communication with patients about their emotional well-being can often fall by the wayside. 

Taking a patient’s thoughts and opinions about care into account is essential, but integrating those thoughts into care in a tangible way is difficult, since there aren’t many clear systematic approaches to do so like there are for clinical measures.

However, some hospitals are working to change that by improving collection methods for patient-reported outcome (PRO) measurements.

The goal is to collect information directly from patients to figure out how they feel about their health, quality of life, mental well-being and/or their healthcare experience, according to an editorial in the Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety.

The editorial, “How Can Health Systems Advance Patient-Reported Outcome Measurement?,” accompanies a study examining a PRO implementation program at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.

Improve communication

Multiple studies have shown that the implementation of a PRO program can help providers better address symptoms, track treatment outcomes, and improve patient communication and engagement (which can be essential for preventing medical errors).

There can be difficulties associated with integrating PRO programs into facilities. Significant planning, infrastructure and coordination is required to create and implement these ideas.

Providers may not appreciate having to add more tasks to their already heavy workloads, and the data provided by patients has to be collected and synthesized.

And as with anything involving data, there’s also a technological side to it. Much of the success of PROs depends on the health information technology and advanced analytics available at your organization.

Various benefits

When these PROs are implemented, however, the benefits are widespread. They allow for individualized treatment planning for patients with diverse needs, improving their care and often shortening their hospital stays.

They also help alleviate patients’ depression and anxiety, since their care can be more customized to address their specific concerns.

If your hospital doesn’t have the resources to implement high-tech PRO measurements on a large scale, you can still adapt some of these findings for your own use.

Giving patients surveys about their stays when they’re discharged can provide clinicians with valuable info, along with surveying patients while they’re still in your care.

Opening lines of communication between providers and patients can also go a long way toward helping staff at all levels understand exactly what patients are going through.

Identifying any problems is the first step to fixing them, and integrating PROs into your care processes can help your hospital come up with solutions that better meet the needs of patients.

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