Communication and the Healthcare Experience

Did you know that communication is an increasingly important aspect of a patient’s healthcare experience?

The benefits of high quality engagement yield improved patient and physician satisfaction, patient adherence to medical advice, improved health outcomes, and ultimately, patient retention.

Optima Health members will begin participating in the Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers (CAHPS®)* survey in March 2021. CAHPS is a set of standardized surveys of patients’ experience and satisfaction with their healthcare. The surveys assess healthcare from the patients’ perspective. Topics covered include accessibility of medical services and physician and clinician communication skills. CAHPS is developed and maintained by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) and the Agency for Health Research and Quality (AHRQ). The surveys are conducted annually by SPH Analytics. Members will be asked to provide perceptions of their providers’ communication with them. The following questions are examples of what is included on the survey:

  • In the last 12 months, how often did your personal doctor explain things in a way that was easy to understand?
  • In the last 12 months, how often did your personal doctor listen carefully to you?
  • In the last 12 months, how often did your personal doctor show respect for what you had to say?
  • In the last 12 months, how often did your personal doctor spend enough time with you?

Adding simple verbal and non-verbal communication techniques are critical in today’s healthcare environment. Fortunately, these techniques can easily be incorporated into the busiest of schedules. Consider trying two or more of the following techniques:

  • Take a seat during the visit: Patients will perceive that you have spent more time with them than if you stand. Standing during the visit leaves the impression that their appointment is being rushed.
  • Be an active listener: By asking open-ended questions and avoiding the temptation to interrupt you’ll not only hear what the patient says, but how they say it.
  • Focus on the patient vs. multitasking: By completing the electronic medical record (EMR) instead of looking at the patient, you may miss the nuances of patient communication such as tone and facial expressions, which often lead to generating additional useful information when probed.
  • Find commonality: Finding something in common with a patient such as sports teams, hobbies, or children, for example, helps open the lines of communication with the patient, likely leading to a trusted healthcare relationship.

By incorporating two or more of these communication techniques, our shared customers may have more satisfying healthcare experiences.

*CAHPS is a registered trademark of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).