Improving Physician-Patient Communication

July 11, 2012
William Balfour

healthcare data analyticsPhysician Communication

Physician Communication with patients has, of course, always been vitally important, but today gaps in physician communication are increasingly scrutinized ” and publicized. The consequences of poor communication skills in physicians are growing and can have a negative financial impact on the hospital as a whole in increasingly direct ways, such as reduced reimbursement for poor HCAHPS results.

How do you identify communication gaps between physicians and patients?

There are ample opportunities to identify issues of substandard physician communication with patients. Most hospitals identify patient satisfaction gaps through patient satisfaction surveys including HCAHPS, patient complaints, administrative rounding, readmission evaluation, quality reviews, follow-up calls, and/or staff concerns.

How do you share your Physician Communication scores and feedback with your doctors?

No positive changes in physician communication are likely to be accomplished if the physician isn’t made aware of the issues, and transparency of both positive and negative results is the key. Information may be shared at Medical Staff, UR, Quality, and Operations meetings; prominently posted in doctor’s lounges; added to OPPE profile, physician scoreboards and physician dashboards; and through peer review.

What have hospitals done to improve physician communication with patients?

  • ArrangeTM physician rounding schedules to occurTM earlierTM in the day, and if a delay will be experienced, notify patient of rescheduled rounding time
  • EncourageTM staff to round with physicians, so they can hear what is discussed with the patient
  • Ask physicians toTM sitTM down in the room and talk with patients
  • Write doctor’s nameTM and contact information on patient’s white board
  • Discuss results in all applicable meetings and remind physicians to maintain open communication ” useTM transparent data as motivationTM for improvement
  • DiscussTM evidence-basedTM methods to improve communication
  • Provide inserviceTM for physiciansTM on Customer Service
  • Physicians who are non-compliant with hospital policies can be swayed by their peers –TM utilize your Medical Executives and other physiciansTM to encourage problematic individuals to “get on board”

TM iVantageTM pinpoints and quantifies HCAHPS performance issues; and our library of peer-tested solutions helps you improve.

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