Imagine walking in to meet with your regular physician and finding out that the specialist you saw last week hasn’t shared information about your new medication. Or that one office got your test results, but the other didn’t. Or that one of your doctors didn’t even know you have a new treatment plan. When health information isn’t shared between providers, it can be incredibly frustrating for patients and their caregivers. When patients have to answer the same questions or track down the same test results, it can feel like clinicians just aren’t listening. But airing those concerns in person isn’t always comfortable and airing them online might not have the intended effect.
To help patients feel heard—and to troubleshoot problems and prevent them from happening again in the future—clinics should seek out feedback, either through anonymous comment cards or a recording booth where patients can relay their experiences directly. It’s one thing to circle a number, indicating a satisfaction score, but it’s entirely another to hear how much a daughter was touched by a nurse who spent a few extra moments explaining a procedure to her father for the third time. It’s more difficult to write off a low score when a patient explains how uncomfortable it made him to be wheeled out in the hallway, improperly covered by his hospital garments. A deeper understanding of patients’ experiences—both positive and negative—can help clinicians improve their interactions and make it easier and less frustrating for patients to get care. Ideally, this sharing process will enable greater trust between clinicians and their patients.