Let’s continue on the trail of going from good to great patients. As a practice, you can help make this happen. There are all sorts of resources out there, but patients don’t always find the best ones. And, there are more than a few who can never get their mind around the concept that our federal government can – and often does – produce some very good work.
Anyway, here’s the page to look at on the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
Looking at this, this could be a good starting template of a set of instructions and information you can give to your patients. This idea, frankly, is a work in progress. At a minimum, this is a good guide for you to develop your own materials to give to patients.
An office visit can be looked at as an information exchange – the patients feeds you data (symptoms, observations, history), the physician analyzes the data, adds their own observations and requests additional data (e.g. tests) and gives the patient advice and guidance. Our focus today is on this transfer to the patients – instructions and the rationale behind them are often lost or altered. The longer the separation from the giving of the instructions – say, the time it takes for the patient to walk out the door – your carefully considered information becomes distorted.
Many patients can make notes as you speak. You may want to offer a modified – and prettier – version of the AHRQ form noted above. Or, you can build a library of your own and commercially available materials to offer patients. For example, start with the most common tests you order and prescriptions you write – you can build up your inventory over time. There are often materials commercially available, such as from the
I’d like to point out a developing resource that may offer some interesting opportunities. ICYOU, at www.icyou.com, offers anyone the opportunity to post a video clip (typically 2 minutes or so) on a health topic. The site is run by Benefitfocus, a company that provides software and services for employers, health plans and consumers to manage their health insurance coverage. They have a professional video production capability in their headquarters, which I was able to tour as part of a Chamber of Commerce event their last week. I’m talking to them some more to see if there are more opportunities for practices to tap into their content. As it stands, the videos can be uploaded by anyone in addition to the ones that they produce, can be viewed by anyone as well. More, hopefully, to come.
Here’s the takeaway: a lot of information transfers when you meet with a patient. Helping them to organize and use the information – your expertise – would be a means of increasing your effectiveness and the value of your work. Maybe- just maybe – this may help patients understand and actually carry out your advice. Maybe – just maybe – this is one way to go from good patients to great patients.