How to Improve the Quality of Patient Visits
Positive patient health outcomes hinge on quality of care - active and empathic listening, shared decision making, time spent with patient, and more - but many clinical organizations aren't prioritizing it. Why? Because the modern clinician is set up to fail.
As medical documentation standards increase, scrutiny heightens, and healthcare idealogy becomes increasingly patient-centered, healthcare organizations across the United States are under growing pressure to improve the quality of patient visits. High-quality patient visits not only improve health outcomes for patients, but also result in better reimbursement and revenue for care organizations, improved patient satisfaction, and reduced risk of medical errors. But what can clinical organizations do to achieve higher-quality patient visits?
In this article, we'll explore the most effective ways to improve the quality of patient visits, from active listening to shared decision-making, effective communication, and more. We will also introduce game-changing AI technology that is revolutionizing the healthcare industry and allowing clinical groups across the country to improve the quality of patient visits.
High-Quality Patient Visits are Critical for the Health & Success
Clinical organizations should be making a concerted effort to improve the quality of patient visits. Here's a few reasons why:
Increase Patient Satisfaction
We often say that the care patients perceive is the care they receive — to a degree. The point is that how patients perceive their quality of care is critical in how they understand their own health and treatment. Patients who feel that their doctor is attentive, caring, and knowledgeable are more likely to perceive higher-quality care and be more satisfied with their clinical experience. This can lead to better patient retention, more referrals, and a stronger reputation for the doctor.
Improved Health Outcomes
Clinical groups that prioritize quality patient visits are more likely to achieve positive health outcomes for their patients. By taking the time to actively listen to patient concerns and questions, and providing accurate, thoughtful responses, diagnoses, and treatment plans, clinicians can ensure that their patients receive the best possible care.
High-quality patient visits often hinge on clear and effective communication between clinician and patient. Improved communication can help ensure that patients understand their diagnosis and treatment plan, which can lead to better compliance with care plans and medications.
Reduced Risk of Medical Errors
By conducting thorough and accurate patient visits, doctors can reduce the risk of medical errors and misdiagnosis, which in turn reduces the risk of malpractice and improves patient safety.
It's easy to identify the throughline in the points outlined above. The trickle-down effects of high-quality patient care can be felt throughout patient populations, clinical organizations, and even entire communities. But, identifying the importance and positive impact of high-quality patient visits isn't exactly revolutionary information, the issue resides in how to actively improve visit quality when clinical organizations are stretched thin. Below is a list of how clinical organizations can improve the quality of clinician-patient visits.
How to Improve the Quality of Clinician-Patient Visits
There are several best practices to help increase the quality of patient visits.
By actively listening, communicating clearly, and engaging in positive non-verbal communication, clinicians can gain a better understanding of their patient's needs, concerns, and preferences — and can tailor their care accordingly. Engaging in active listening can help establish trust and rapport between patient and clinician, which can lead to improved care outcomes and patient satisfaction.
Empathy, the process of understanding and sharing the feelings of others, is critical to high-quality patient visits. By practicing active listening and being empathetic, clinicians can establish deeper, more trusting relationships with their patients, allowing clinicians to better understand the unique needs and concerns of their patients. Clinicians should try to empathize with their patients and understand both the physical and emotional impact of their symptoms. Clinical organizations that take an empathic approach to care will always see improved patient satisfaction over those that do not.
Effective communication relies on both intent and impact. Intent refers to a speakers goal in their message, and impact refers to how that message is perceived and understood by the listener. In healthcare, where medical jargon is commonplace, there can often be a gap between intent and impact. It's important for clinicians to use simple language, avoid jargon, and ensure that patients understand the information they provide. Effective communication is a two-way street. Always.
Shared Decision Making
Shared decision-making is a collaborative approach to healthcare decision-making in which clinicians and patients work together to determine the best course of action based on the patient's preferences, values, and goals. In this approach, clinicians involve patients in the decision-making process and provide them with the necessary information to make informed choices. This approach can lead to higher-quality patient visits, improved health outcomes, and increased patient satisfaction.
This should go without saying. Clinicians must treat patients with respect and dignity, regardless of their background, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status. Respecting each patient and caring for them equally can help care organizations reduce health disparities and address systemic healthcare inequities. By recognizing and honoring each patient's unique experiences and perspectives, providers can develop a better understanding of their patient's needs, leading to more personalized, effective, high-quality care.
Reserve Adequate Time for Patient Visits
Nothing breaks down clinical trust more than a busy, rushed, and unengaged provider. Reserving adequate time for patient visits to engage in pleasantries and small talk allows clinicians and patients to humanize themselves in what can often feel like a sterile environment. While certainly not the norm in healthcare, clinical organizations that prioritize giving their providers adequate time to visit with patients are able to improve the quality of visits and thus patient care and satisfaction.
Unfortunately, the lack of adequate time to spend with patients is where this entire process breaks down and the quality of patient visits suffers. Why? Because the modern clinician is set up to fail.
Modern Healthcare: Documentation Standards Set Clinicians Up to Fail
The underlying issue here is that documentation standards (stemming from HITECH and Meaningful Use) set clinicians up to fail. The excessive burden of medical documentation, paperwork, and data entry requirements leaves little time for engaging with patients, which is, as we know, the cornerstone of high-quality doctor-patient visits. As such, many healthcare organizations are often unable to prioritize the elements of care that are most beneficial to the long-term health of their patients and clinicians.
How AI Can Help
As artificial intelligence gains more mainstream traction through applications such as OpenAI's ChatGPT, it's becoming clear to the world that AI can help augment manual, time-consuming tasks. What's clear now is that healthcare is full of manual tasks that AI is positioned to help with or take on entirely.
Introduce DeepScribe, an AI-powered medical scribe that automates clinical documentation by simply listening to the natural conversation between clinician and patient. Instead of focusing on documentation during the patient visit or after hours, clinicians are free to focus on the elements of patient care that lead to the highest quality outcomes.
With DeepScribe, clinicians can untether themselves from their computer screens and EHRs during the visit. This in-visit freedom allows clinicians to engage in more active listening, communicate empathy more effectively (through eye contact and other positive non-verbals), and spend more time with each patient - improving trust and rapport. Additionally, by allowing AI to write the documentation, clinicians are less strained once the patient leaves the exam room, giving them more time to prepare for the next visit and spend adequate time with patients.
With DeepScribe in-place system-wide, healthcare organizations can optimize clinical efficiency like never before, maximize reimbursement and improve billing, all while drastically improving patient satisfaction and relieving clinicians from the burden of medical documentation.
As long as documentation standards remain unattainable for clinicians, the quality of patient visits will suffer. To reduce the negative impacts, clinical organizations around the world are switching to DeepScribe and breathing life back into the exam room. To learn how DeepScribe can work in your organization, reach out to us.