The pMD Blog
Tackling the Provider Communication Challenge
In the health care industry, we see advances in technology and science as a way to improve patient care. But what if we look at a more fundamental pillar? Communication, especially expectations, can be generally improved in any scenario. The expectation that a patient’s care team is on the same page is understandable because we now have electronic medical records that are updated in real-time and are accessible 24/7. However, that does not necessarily mean that each provider is up to speed and it does not replace the need for improved communication.  By managing these expectations through better communication, can we increase positive health care outcomes?

Challenges in Communication

We’ve all heard the phrase, ‘the left-hand doesn’t know what the right-hand is doing’ and unfortunately, this happens within the health care system far more than anyone would care to admit. Patients no longer go to see just one doctor but are now fitted with a whole team of physicians who are responsible for their care. In fact, according to research conducted by the Columbia Medical Review, the following statistics highlight the number of physicians on a patient’s case:


On average, a typical surgery patient can have 27 providers on their case and elderly patients an average of 11 providers in a single year.


The average Medicare provider will be coordinating care with 229 other individual physicians across 117 different companies. With such an arsenal of individuals all expected to be on the same page surrounding a singular patient’s care, it is little wonder why we have the spotlight on improving communication in health care through the use of technology.

Communication and Patient Safety

It is not feasible to expect physicians to attend every meeting or conversation regarding each individual patient’s care while also maintaining a full-time schedule. In addition, operating independently can not only be cumbersome, but also dangerous.  This is where we begin to see communication fall through the cracks and open the door to a larger problem: patient safety.

In a study conducted by the Institute of Medicine, 67% of medical errors were due to a gap in communication. This fundamental pillar, which one would consider a no-brainer, represents two-thirds of all medical errors!

When looking at another study on patient safety, poor collaboration and communication have been found to increase the risk for ICU patients by 180%. This data reflects the importance of communication and that bad communication is impacting patient care in negative ways.

Advances in Communication

The good news is that changes in technology and government initiatives are helping drive the industry to take up the communication challenge by improving organizational processes and internal systems.

You may have heard of the new quality program, Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA), that begins the reporting period in 2017. But how much of this is communication driven? Actually, quite a bit! Each section of the program has specified items that directly influence the use of technology or processes to improve communication. Some examples include: Communication with the Physician or Other Clinician Managing On-going Care Post-Fracture for Men and Women Aged 50 Years and Older (Quality Measure), Secure Messaging (ACI Measure), and Implementation of Improvements that Contribute to More Timely Communication of Results (Improvement Activity).

At pMD, we’re building a platform to bridge such communication gaps within medical communities. With secure and HIPAA-compliant messaging, automated notifications, and intuitive software, we’re providing a platform for organizations to stay connected and keep everyone up-to-date, allowing for the best possible care.

References:

https://medicalreview.columbia.edu/article/communication-healthcare/
http://healthcarecomm.org/about-us/impact-of-communication-in-healthcare/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK43665/