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Want to cut costs and improve patient experience? Start communicating.

by ​Michael Campana
 
Improving patient-provider communications should be a top priority for healthcare professionals.

First the good news: More than 80% of the 250 respondents to an ASQ online poll of healthcare quality professionals said that improving communications between patients and providers should be a top priority in improving patient experience.1

​Place just as much value on patient experience and quality of service as you do on financial and clinical performance measures.

Now the bad news: The same respondents identified two obstacles in particular as “very difficult” to overcome in striving to improve communications:

1) Documentation-heavy payment and regulatory systems that take providers away from patient care; and

2) Fragmented, uncoordinated care characterized by such hassles as multiple hand-offs and the lack of a nationally integrated healthcare information system.

I don’t know about you, but this comes as little surprise to us. There are times in my own healthcare travels as a patient when I almost can’t tell whether I’m dealing with a doctor’s office or the cable company.

Now, while that’s a drastic example, and your organization may be taking steps to reach out and connect more personally with patients, it never hurts to see how you can broaden your communication efforts to your entire organization and staff.
 

The experts surveyed by ASQ identified several key ways to help healthcare organizations overcome hurdles like these. Here’s what they found:


  • Implement programs that show your staff that they are heard and you care about their input.
  • Focus on leadership development efforts that place emphasis on understanding how to provide a positive patient experience right away.
  • Collaborate with other healthcare organizations to share what best practices are working and use this network for support to make improvements.
  • Place just as much value on patient experience and quality of service as you do on financial and clinical performance measures.
  • Streamline communications by leveraging a universal health information system that crosses every continuum and sorts and sends necessary data securely to all those who need it.
That last item, especially, can make a big impact. So much of a patient’s experience – good or bad – comes down to how smoothly and efficiently their information can be shared. And while a truly universal, nationwide network for sharing healthcare information (a la the banking system) may still be well down the road, healthcare organizations can begin taking steps now to improve communications with patients, payers and other providers. Many of today’s electronic health record systems (EHRs) and analytics solutions have the ability and flexibility to share data with a multitude of systems. Indeed, they can go a long way toward not just improving patient experience in the here and now, but also preparing your organization for the future of healthcare.

Make patient-provider communications a top priority

Begin taking steps now to improve communications with patients, payers and other providers.
 
Michael Campana
Michael Campana joined Ricoh in 2012 as Senior Manager of Healthcare Marketing. He brings 27 years of experience to the role to lead the market positioning and strategy for Ricoh’s healthcare industry vertical in the Americas. Campana began his career in the healthcare industry upon graduating from the University of South Florida. He has worked for a number of healthcare organizations, including most recently Siemens Medical Solutions Health Services.
 
 
1 "Better Communication Key to Lowering Health Care Costs, Improving Patient Experience: ASQ Survey." ASQ.org. April 16, 2015. http://globenewswire.com/news-release/2015/04/16/725304/10129296/en/Better-Communication-Key-to-Lowering-Health-Care-Costs-Improving-Patient-Experience-ASQ-Survey.html