Flip No. 41

Give patients “think time” post-appointment

Moments for reflection might improve patient understanding

By Laurie King

Developed at Flip the Clinic Lab: Phoenix

No matter how perfectly a clinician and patient conversation goes during an appointment, there’s often a moment right after the appointment has concluded where a patient realizes one question was forgotten or a part of a treatment plan isn’t fully understood. By the time the realization hits, the clinician is no longer available and getting back in touch takes some time.

Wouldn’t it be nice to reserve a little post-appointment space for reflection? An agreed upon slot where patients can process and have someone available to take follow up or clarification questions?

In schools, students are often asked to reflect during a journaling exercise in order to think through their lessons. What if patients were encouraged to take similar time for reflection? Patients’ thoughts and questions could be recorded directly into the electronic medical record so that the clinic could keep track of their health literacy and ongoing concerns over time. This encouraged “think time” in the clinic would also offer patients one small opportunity to check back in with their clinician should anything come up. It would require a bit of restructuring to carve out that follow up time in the clinic, but it would certainly have benefits for patient understanding, satisfaction, and ability to achieve their health goals and therapies.