Improved Coordination Could Enhance Patient Care

Article

Targeted interventions to coordinate care could be effective improving the overall patient experience.

Patient satisfaction is based on more than just time spent with a single health care provider.

Researchers from the Stanford University School of Medicine created the Survey to Enhance Patient Experience (STEPx) in order to characterize the patient experience throughout a pain clinic visit.

The questionnaire contained 20 items aimed at measuring patient experience during 7 touch points, plus 1 open-ended section. The survey was distributed to 628 patients, 20% (123) of whom completed it.

While factors like patient-facing staff and outcomes played a role in patients’ satisfaction, the most influential factor was satisfaction with care coordination. Other indicators of positive patient experiences were after-visit communications and coordination of follow-up visits, the researchers found.

The researchers posited that targeted interventions to coordinate care could be effective in improving the overall patient experience.

“We believe that all players in a patient’s care can improve their part in coordinated care by simply being more willing to communicate,” lead study author Ming-Chih Kao, MD, PhD, told Pharmacy Times. “This can be something as simple as a telephone call or the use of secure electronic communications. Several software platforms are being developed to improve coordinated care.

Pharmacists, like all providers, will no doubt benefit from participating in the development of these platforms of coordinated care.”

Another important factor in coordinated care is preventing a fragmented patient experience. Pain patients who are dissatisfied with their care may demonstrate less compliance, switch providers multiple times, and seek care that isn’t indicated, the researchers stated.

“Physicians and clinics, as much as pharmacists, have the patients’ best interests in mind,” Dr. Kao said. “This being the case, physicians and clinics should be more than happy to receive telephone calls for expedited problem solving as issues arise. By providing less fragmented patient experience, this should improve patient satisfaction, not to mention compliance and ultimately outcomes of care.”

The 2 key aspects of promoting coordinated care for chronic pain patients are communication and convenience, Dr. Kao said.

“In particular, patients with complex medical needs and several specialist providers will benefit from working more closely with pharmacists who can help facilitate communications between providers on medication selection and reconcile the often contradictory needs coming from different specialists,” Dr. Kao said.

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