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IT infrastructure key to better communication between doctor, patient

Good communications between the caregiver and the patient are essential for better care and satisfaction concerning the care given and received. The use of IT tools can enhance communication between healthcare professionals and their patients, health IT consultant Margaret Schulte writes in a blog on the HIMSS website.

In the Oschner Journal, Fong and Longnecker state that effective doctor-patient communication is a central clinical function in building a therapeutic doctor-patient relationship, which is the heart and art of medicine. This is important in the delivery of high-quality healthcare. However, Schulte writes, according to the American Hospital Association, the current healthcare environment makes good communication among patients, families, and caregivers harder and harder to achieve.

Why? There are seveal reasons: hHospital stays are shorter, medical care is more technologically complex, resources are constrained, and there is a growing need for patients and families to have more information about, and involvement in, care decisions.

IT supports communication

 In this last aspect, Schulte believesthe use of IT has significantly enhanced achievement of communication levels. ‘Patient portals are widely used, telehealth technologies are supporting communication between provider and patient in the patient’s home and/or in local community care centers, and mobile health technologies make access to patient information available anytime and anywhere.’

The HIMSS EHR Value Collection stresses the importance of high-quality communication with patients, the health IT consultant writes. This “library” of value insights reflect the experiences of hospitals, health systems and providers in all venues of care delivery.  Alpenglow Medical, for example, reported that the “EHR is increasing patient satisfaction by allowing the doctor to sit and listen and not rush the visit.” Another example: in the UK, the Milton Keynes Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has found that the electronic health record “increased clinician time availability for patients.”

EHR core part of better communication

The electronic health record with its integrated technologies and applications has become a core part of the healthcare infrastructure to enhance communication with patients, to advance patient education and satisfaction, and to streamline clinical interactions such as prescribing and ordering tests, Schulte concludes. It is also improving physician and caregiver effectiveness and satisfaction.  It offers significant value in furthering the provider/patient relationship.


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