Doctor-patient comms etiquette via written communication

Doctor-patient communication is an integral aspect of successfully working as a healthcare professional. It is often the case that doctors' lives are so busy that they overlook maintaining effective contact with their patients, which can, unfortunately, harm patient care and treatment outcomes.

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What is doctor/patient communication?

What is doctor/patient communication?

Doctor-patient communication is an integral aspect of successfully working as a healthcare professional. It is often the case that doctors' lives are so busy that they overlook maintaining effective contact with their patients, which can, unfortunately, harm patient care and treatment outcomes. If you are looking to improve the communication between your doctors and your patients, we highly recommend implementing a patient portal. 

Patient portals provide a secure two-way communication channel between clients and physicians, as well as having the added advantage of streamlining various administrative tasks and saving your clinic time and resources. Patient portals are steadily growing in popularity, and according to a report from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, over 90% of hospitals had implemented some form of a patient portal between the years 2014-2017. 

Why is doctor-patient communication important in medical settings?

Communicating effectively with patients is an often overlooked area of healthcare. The importance of good communication impacts numerous fields of healthcare, including: 

  • Continuity of care: Many patients receive referrals, are transferred between departments or facilities or are discharged to go home. In these cases, it is critical that all relevant healthcare providers are communicating so they can provide the patient with appropriate care. Inadequate miscommunication in these scenarios can lead to readmittance or a poor health outcome. 
  • Reimbursement: Although not directly related to the treatment of a patient, communication plays a critical role in ensuring that your healthcare practice receives reimbursement. All of your sessions with patients need to be documented accurately so that the medical claims you submit can be processed and you receive payment. 
  • Protection: As I’m sure you know, malpractice and other lawsuits are an unfortunately frequent occurrence for many doctors and practicing physicians. In order to protect yourself in these legal situations, it is critical that your clinical notes have been documented accurately. Using healthcare software that is integrated with a patient portal can streamline the process of clinical documentation and help ensure you and your patients are protected.
  • Transparency: When receiving treatment, patients want to be kept informed of their progress or any changes in their treatment plan.  The best way to ensure transparency is through effective communication between doctors and patients. This way, patients will understand why they are receiving specific methods of care, and they are more likely to be satisfied with their physician’s decisions. 

Maintaining effective communication through a patient portal is an optimal decision for your healthcare practice. Patient portals will allow your clients to play a larger role in managing their own care, whilst also protecting you should any legal situations arise. Portals allow for professional etiquette in healthcare that your team and patients will come to deeply appreciate.

Why is doctor-patient communication important in medical settings?
Doctor-patient written communication etiquette 101

Doctor-patient written communication etiquette 101

Now we know that communication is important, but how exactly can you become a good communicator? To help you improve your skills, we have compiled a list of dos and don'ts that you should keep in mind when interacting with a patient.

  • Empathy: A lot of the time, patients just want to feel as though they are being taken seriously. Empathize with them, and demonstrate that you understand how they feel. Many patients are in a vulnerable state when they are seeking medical treatment, so making them feel heard can have a big impact.
  • Clarity: It is always important to remember that whilst you know all of the medical jargon, your patients almost certainly do not. Patients should leave an appointment with a clear understanding of their treatment plan or medical advice, so ensuring you use clear, easily understood language is important.
  • Listen: It might seem obvious, but actually listening to your patients is a factor that doctors sometimes fall short on. This means no interruptions, good body language, and asking them relevant questions. 
  • Small talk: If you have a busy schedule, you are more likely to want to get straight to the point and sometimes small talk can seem unnecessary. However, if you greet the patient, introduce yourself and ask some questions about their day, your patient is more likely to feel at ease and comfortable with you during the appointment. 
  • Note-taking: Taking accurate clinical notes is a significant aspect of working as a healthcare professional. Whilst it is important that these notes are written as soon as possible so that the information is fresh in your mind, we don’t recommend writing them during the session. If you are continuously writing things down, your patients may feel like you are not paying attention to them. Instead, wait until after the session and then focus on maintaining the written record of your clinical notes.

Effective patient communication through patient portals

Patient portals are frequently implemented by healthcare practices to improve communication between doctors and patients. A patient portal provides a two-way communication channel that facilitates direct communication between doctors and patients. Often, doctors that have busy schedules fail to remain in regular contact with their patients. A patient portal makes interactions significantly easier, as they are available 24/7 and you don’t need to communicate via administrative staff. Patient portals increase the transparency of treatment plans and allow patients to be more included in the decision-making process. Other features commonly integrated within patient portals include access to medical records, appointment history, invoice information, and online payment tools. By using a patient portal, you are guaranteed to optimize your relationship with your patients and ensure they are satisfied with the delivery of healthcare services. Prioritizing the needs of your patients is of utmost importance within healthcare practices, and it would be a great disservice to not experience the excellent features portals have to offer.

Doctor-patient written communication etiquette 101

If you are interested in optimizing your communication with your patients, the best first step is to implement a patient portal. They are advantageous to both you and your clients for a variety of reasons, including: 

  • Patient care: Appointments with patients are most successful when the physician has access to the patient’s medical history. Patient portals securely store the medical records of a patient, allowing physicians to spend more time focused solely on delivering quality care. 
  • Clinical outcomes: Specific services are able to be completed using a patient portal, including requesting prescriptions and referrals. Patients no longer have to book a separate appointment just to complete these tasks, and physicians can fill their schedules with individuals who need more urgent care.
  • Optimize workflow: Managing the schedule of a busy medical office is often a very time-consuming task. The personal calendars of physicians need to be taken into consideration when patients request appointments, and no-shows or delays can interfere with an entire day. Patient portals include appointment scheduling software that allows patients to select an appointment time at their own convenience, eliminating the need to have administrative staff organize the daily schedule. Further, automated reminder features can be generated and sent out to remind patients of upcoming appointments, reducing no-shows by up to 99%. 
  • Streamline administrative tasks: One of the best advantages of implementing a patient portal is its ability to streamline various administrative tasks, saving your practice time and resources. Patients can book their appointments and make their payments online, allowing your practice to save significant amounts of time that can instead be spent doing more important tasks. 

Take away message

Managing communication is an integral aspect of operating a successful healthcare business that is unfortunately often overlooked. Implementing a patient portal into your healthcare practice is the easiest way to maximize effective electronic communication and has the additional advantage of streamlining administrative tasks. Carepatron offers a secure patient portal where clients can access their medical records, as well as appointment and invoice information. Carepatron’s software is integrated with an appointment scheduling system, medical billing, and clinical documentation to help ensure that physicians are delivering the highest quality of healthcare possible.

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