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How important is communication in health care?

Think of the last time you had a loved one have surgery.  Remember the anxiety, the lack of communication and the overwhelming sense of helplessness.  This happens over 150,000,000 times a year in the United States alone for both inpatient and outpatient surgeries.  This leaves millions of people left sitting in the dark anxiously awaiting updates on their loved one.

There have been many research studies that have shown that no matter how much of an expert a clinician might be, if he or she is not able to communicate well with the patient, he or she may be of no help.  According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, “Good medical care depends upon effective communication between you (patient) and your provider(s).  Ineffective communication can lead to improper diagnosis and delayed or improper medical treatment.”

New research evidence also indicates that there is a direct correlation between a healthcare team member’s communication skills and a patient’s ability to follow through with a medical care plan, self-manage a chronic medical condition, and the ability to learn preventive health behaviors. The research studies concluded that the clinician’s ability to explain, relate, listen and empathize can have a profound effect on biological and functional health outcomes as well as patient satisfaction and experience of care.

Additional research(1) has been done around the impact of a positive or negative doctor-patient relationship and malpractice.  According to the research(1) examined, plaintiff depositions found that 71% of the malpractice claims were initiated as a result of a physician-patient relationship problem. This research(1) also demonstrated that the most litigious patients perceived their physician as not caring. The same researchers found that one out of four plaintiffs in malpractice cases reported poor delivery of medical information, with 13% citing poor listening on the part of the physician.

So what is all this data telling us?  That poor communication in healthcare leads to increased anxiety, improper diagnosis and medical treatment and the potential for increased litigation.  The way to improve patient-provider communication is to start with the basics.  Communicate more frequently, create transparency, listen and treat others as you would want to be treated.  EASE Applications has created a tool that allows clinicians to communicate in the way that most of us interact in today’s modern world.  EASE is a secure messaging platform that allows clinicians to send updates to a patient’s family and friends directly from the operating room.  The impact of sending texts, photos and videos during a medical procedure has proven to be incredibly powerful and reduce anxiety in 98% of participants.  Additional data on over 7000 families that received these updates can be viewed here.

Patient-provider communication can be improved by starting with the people that matter most to them.  Connecting with the patient’s family and friends can yield great benefits.  After all, many times it is the family and friends that support them the most during a difficult recovery from a medical procedure.  Using HIPAA compliant texting to update a patient’s inner circle is ideal for building a foundation of trust, accountability and transparency.  For a demo on EASE HIPAA compliant messaging platform please contact us today.

  1.  Beckman, H. B., Markakis, K. M., Suchman, A. L., & Frankel, R. M. (1994). The doctor-patient relationship and malpractice. Lessons from plaintiff depositions. Archives of Internal Medicine, 154(12) 1365-1370.

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