Healthcare News & Insights

Why the patient/provider relationship is key to better hospital care

To improve patient outcomes, it’s critical to have patients take more active roles in their care. When patients act as partners with providers, readmissions and complications decrease. So your hospital’s clinicians need to be more open to having a close working relationship with patients.  

Doctor explaining to PatientDespite all the evidence showing the benefits, many doctors still aren’t communicating openly with their patients.

And they aren’t sharing all the information they can with patients about their health, whether it’s due to technological limitations, perceived notions about patients’ health literacy or other issues.

That means patients are becoming disengaged from their health care.

In an article on e-patients.net, Dr. Daniel Sands from the Society of Participatory Medicine, an organization that calls for better partnerships between providers and patients, calls this the “car wash” approach. Here, patients are pulled through the healthcare system, getting health “sprayed” on them by hospitals and providers.

Relationship building

Although many patients find themselves feeling like they’re being passively moved through a car wash during hospital visits and follow-up appointments, they want more.

The Society of Participatory Medicine recently polled 1,000 adults, and it found the majority of them want a closer relationship with their providers to improve their quality of care. In fact, 88% of participants believe that working with healthcare professionals as partners will help them manage and improve their overall health.

And most of them want to begin this collaborative process by sharing health information with their providers: 84% of those surveyed believe tracking their own health data and sharing it with healthcare professionals between visits would help them manage their own health better.

The types of health information they’d like to track includes their blood pressure, heart rate, rate of physical activity and respiratory rate.

Over three-quarters (77%) said that easily and accurately monitoring their bodies for these vital signs is equally important to themselves and their healthcare providers.

A similar percentage (76%) would be interested in monitoring their health data with an accurate and easy-to-use device, especially if it was recommended by a provider. Eighty-one percent would be more likely to use a device that tracked health data if it came recommended from a healthcare professional.

Importance of professional opinions

Provider feedback is critical in building a relationship where patients are engaged in their health care. Patients can monitor their health data on their own, but without a provider to give them guidance and suggestions based on the numbers, the initiatives often fall flat.

Dr. Sands cites a study in his article where patients monitored and tracked their health data, but did so on their own without help from a physician. The program had no noticeable effects on patient outcomes or healthcare costs.

So sharing information on both sides is important. And where barriers exist, providers must do their best to overcome them, working with hospitals to come up with systems that seamlessly and securely integrate patient-collected data into their electronic health records, and communicating information both verbally and electronically in a way patients can easily digest and understand.

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