The Australian Federal Elections are drawing near. The Conservatives and the Labour Party are once again pitching their wares – fighting it out on who has the best health policy. Amongst the spouted sales spiel and all its nation-centric statistical data, the patient’s (what the policies are/should be ultimately all about) voice is lost.
A recently released book on ‘Patient-Provider Communication’ (Blackstone, Beukelman and Yorkston, April 2015), noted ‘that patients, health care providers, policy makers, and researchers live in nearly parallel universes with differing incentives, access to data and information, accountability expectations, and time frames for action’. What this alludes to is the potential for differing visions in patient healthcare, experiences and communications – resulting in a potentially disparate state of affairs.
What if patient experiences were given a larger focus in the formation of national health policies? How much more refined would policies be? Undoubtedly, communication between patients and their clinicians/hospital management will have more prominence in local and national policies. And from high-level policy to on-the-ground realities, issues like how to better communicate with the patient over things like a treatment or healthcare plan would get the attention it so rightfully deserves.
In my recent trip to the Beryl Institute Conference in Dallas, I had the good fortune of meeting with Dr. Tom Scaletta and Julie Danker – who lead patient experience initiatives at the Edward-Elmhurst Hospital – and found out how they manage patient communications. Regarded as one of the leaders in this space with their G.R.E.A.T. coaching techniques, they imparted practical insight into communication and engagement techniques that can help patients and clinicians.
Here are some key takeaways from them:
- Contact patients the day after ED discharge – it keeps them safe and satisfied
- Engage patients digitally – it reduces cost and increases reach
- Automate work processes – it allows charge nurses and case managers to efficiently intervene at the right points in the workflow process
- Build in an automated response mechanism/module into your systems – it allows for the acknowledgement of compliments and resolution of complaints by ED leaders
- Measure, measure, measure – use statistically-valid metrics and patient comments to drive provider performance. We can always keep improving.