Patient-centered care and communication
Everyone knows that smartphones have transformed our everyday life. But only now are people starting to see how they also can transform healthcare to be more patient-centered.
The Institute of Medicine defines patient-centered care as “care that is respectful of and responsive to individual patient preferences, needs, and values.”1 To achieve patient-centered care, physicians must communicate with their patients, as well as with other physicians, working to develop collaborative treatment plans.
Unfortunately, the National Academy of Sciences reports that most doctor-patient communication needs improvement. Currently, less than 50% of patients feel they receive clear information about their treatment options2 and nearly 50% feel they don’t have enough control over decisions about the direction of their treatment.3
So how can hospitals improve communication in order to support more patient-centered care?
One solution is to formalize a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy. Later, we will explore three concrete ways that hospitals have used BYOD to better their communication practices, for instance, enabling point-of-care diagnosis via smart device-based ultrasound. But first, let’s take a look at why hospitals should be interested in patient-centered care in the first place.
The benefits of patient-centered care
Most physicians expect that when care is patient-centered, patient satisfaction and patient perception of quality of care increase.4 However, the other benefits of patient-centered care—improved health outcomes at lower cost and improved financial performance —may come as more of a surprise.
Improved health outcomes
A study published in the Journal of Family Practice found that when patients perceived their care to be patient-centered, it was associated with better health outcomes—specifically, “better recovery from discomfort and concern, better emotional health two months later, and fewer diagnostic tests and referrals.” Interestingly, the study also found that when experts perceived care to be patient-centered, but patients didn’t agree, there was no correlation with better health outcomes.5
Better care at reduced cost
Similarly, a study from Carnegie Mellon and Blue Shield found that when patients were in greater communication with their medical teams and were assigned a care manager to help them to develop individualized treatment goals, they suffered fewer side effects. At the same time, their overall care costs were reduced by 26 percent. This was because with fewer side effects, patients had fewer hospital admittances, spent less time in the hospital, and made fewer emergency room visits.6
Patient-centered care was also found to decrease the annual number of referral visits for specialty care and to lower the number of laboratory and diagnostic tests ordered, a study in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine confirmed.7
Better financial performance
Finally, patient-centered care “consistently predicts hospital performance on an array of crucial business outcomes, including EBITA per adjusted admission and net revenue per adjusted admission,” research from the Gallup Management Journal showed.8 And when asked if they would be willing to switch hospitals for a better patient experience, 41% of patient-respondents said yes, indicating that practicing patient-centered care can help hospitals increase their market share, reported by the Agency of Healthcare Research and Quality.9
Making time for patient-centered care with BYOD
Despite proven benefits, patient-centered care has not been widely implemented. The primary barrier cited by most physicians: Time.
However, one big step forward for patient-centered care would be introducing a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy, allowing physicians to use their personal smart phones and tablets in their practices. See how BYOD has helped hospitals:
Opportunity 1: Point-of-care ultrasound
One way that BYOD can improve communication is by making bedside ultrasound extremely accessible. When physicians are allowed to use their smart devices as a healthcare provider, they can access tools like Philips Lumify, a transducer that plugs into an Android device and an ultrasound app.
Bedside ultrasound with a smart device helps physicians more quickly diagnose and share ultrasound images with patients and the rest of the care team.
Opportunity 2: Shared Decision Making
Shared Decision Making (SDM) is a collaborative process that allows patients and their providers to make healthcare decisions together and to craft personalized treatment plans. Both doctor and patient bring a helpful perspective to the dialogue, with the goal of creating an effective treatment plan and improve outcomes.10 BYOD supports SDM, with 68% of doctors reporting that it promotes better communication with patients and 35% of doctors saying it provides easier access to patient information. Also, BYOD allows for the use of SDM apps, which can help doctors and patients collaboratively make difficult decisions, especially in the ED when time is of the essence.11
Opportunity 3: Improved Communication Between Providers
BYOD can facilitate internal communication between providers by allowing physicians to send emails rather than waiting for access to a computer. This allows physicians to coordinate and begin treatment plans earlier, especially if their care requires referrals.12
Ineffective communication among providers, inversely, is one of the leading causes of medical errors and patient harm. Improved communication between healthcare providers, facilitated by BYOD, can “decrease time to treatment” and “results in higher rates of resolution of patient issues post-intervention.”13
BYOD also helps clinicians access reference tools created by fellow providers, like the current prescribing facts for thousands of drugs, the most recent biomedical research, and other point-of-care reference support—information they can then bring to their discussions with patients. 14
For hospitals working to improve the patient experience, BYOD is offering real progress towards facilitating communication along the healthcare continuum by giving doctors access to tools like smart device-based ultrasound, shared decision making apps, mobile email and more. And improved communication between physicians and their patients is a must for improving patient-centered care.