Research has demonstrated that improved pre-arrival communication for scheduled procedures reduces no shows and improves patient prep, but what is it that patients are looking for in their pre-arrival communication? Four patient partners – Diane, Vicki, Vivian, and William – graciously joined us for a panel discussion on pre-arrival communication. Each had substantial experience with scheduled healthcare procedures, surgeries, and visits, both as patients and as caregivers. Each has since also volunteered to help the hospitals at which they receive care improve their insights into patient needs and build better solutions to healthcare’s challenges.
These four patient partners told us that through their experiences, they have learned to be their own advocates, and to advocate for their loved-ones. They made it clear that health systems teach them how to work the system – often a painful process that forces them to adapt to systems that seem broken, and that don’t seem to value their time. A few examples:
“I’m always on time for things, but they’re not. So you start to ignore their instructions when they
tell you when to arrive. If they’re on time, I’m on time.”
“I was in a research study where they told me I was special. They put a 3 month calendar together with labs and follow up. When I arrived for my first appointment, they said you have no appointment. The clinical research coordinator canceled and rescheduled, but I got no notice. He said he had emailed. He could have called to say, ‘I haven’t heard from you, how are you doing?’ If I’m so special, he could have called.”
“I want the clinic to explain everything that’s going to happen – with visuals. Here’s what you need to do to prepare, here’s where you’ll take off your clothes, here’s the recovery room. Not just a phone call the day before saying no liquids, no food, no soap.”
From their stories, we distilled a list of Always Events® to improve the patient experience.
- If you need to cancel or change my appointment, call me and confirm that I am ok with the change.
- If you are running late, send a notification to me instead of having me arrive and wait.
- Provide information I need when I need it with text alerts and reminders instead of pages of details.
- Let me fill out my paperwork in advance, instead of having piles of it to complete upon arrival for an appointment. When I arrive, my mind is not on paperwork.
- If I am working with multiple departments, coordinate and communicate, instead of making me manage my transitions.
- Provide education and information with pictures and visuals, instead of in a narrative format.
- Provide a contact for me to talk to about my fears, concerns, and questions prior to procedures. I may not want to burden my caregivers with my concerns.
- Give me confidence and “informed hope” for what can go well.
- Include my “We” or care partner in appropriate ways.
- Remember: it is about the relationship and every impression is a first impression.
Join us February 25th at 10am PST/1pm EST to learn more about best practices and innovative technology solutions that improve pre-arrival communication for scheduled procedures. Registration Details to Follow.