You’ve heard it before, and we’re sure you’ll hear it again: Communication is key in health care. The conversations between patients and providers, providers and nurses, and staff and family members are essential to successful care.
But no matter how well your providers and staffers communicate, they may be missing certain signals that could help them keep patients healthy and satisfied.
West Corporation, a patient engagement communications company, recently surveyed more than 1,000 patients and 300 providers to highlight any gaps in healthcare communication, and Physicians Practice has the results.
10 communication types
There were three overarching categories with 10 types of communication patients said were important to them, and your employees should be using them where applicable.
The larger categories involve prevention, disease management and billing transparency.
Under the prevention category, the types of communication patients requested were:
Lab test updates. Waiting for lab results can be a stressful experience for many patients, and 77% of those surveyed want providers to help them track their results. Make it clear how and when patients will be able to pick up their results. If there are any delays, be sure to let patients know about what’s causing them. In addition, with lab results that may be sensitive or require additional explanation, it’s important to talk to patients about them in person when possible.
Preventive service recommendations. Patients are busy, so they don’t always track when they need certain preventive visits. Sending automated messages that remind patients to schedule these appointments means providers and staff don’t need to track anyone down.
Text messaging. Younger patients don’t want to talk to their providers on the phone – they’d much rather receive a text or message via patient portal. Plus, texting is often easier for staffers, since it takes less time than a phone call.
Health management advice. Reminders for activities patients can do at home to stay healthy are appreciated, such as nutrition tips or easy exercises. But 21% of patients don’t get these messages from providers. Simple texts can go a long way for those patients, and these messages have the added benefits of keeping patients healthier and lowering hospital readmissions.
When it comes to disease management, patients want:
Personalized recommendations. Disease-specific communication helps patients feel valued and connected to their providers, which makes them more likely to follow their advice.
Health goal info. Everyone wants to know what they should be working toward with their vital signs. Example: Knowing what blood pressure levels to aim for allows them to work toward that goal and feel more in control of their bodies.
Medication reminders. Medication adherence is a major problem for many hospitals. Reminding patients when to take their meds with a text is an easy way to improve adherence.
Monitoring surveys. Patients want to feel like their providers are doing everything they can to help them, so check in with them by sending surveys about their health and experience. These surveys can help providers pick up on any changes with a patient’s condition or improvements they need to make.
Being up front about costs is essential for patients who are paying for more of their health care. Here’s what patients want with billing transparency:
Clarity on patient responsibility. Unexpected costs are a major concern for patients, so make sure they know what they’ll need to pay and when it’s due.
Bills that are easy to understand and pay. Let patients know what they owe before they receive their bills, and you’ll likely increase timely payments. Accepting various forms of payment can also help improve the chances patients will pay their bills.