Patient Communication Study Offers Important Lessons

Patient Communication Study Offers Important Lessons

A recent article from Medscape called “Angina Often Missed, Undertreated in Stable CAD Outpatients”  points out how miscommunication between patient and provider can produce different outcomes that may be detrimental, and emphasizes how critical careful doctor-patient communication is.

Patients with stable angina due to ischemic heart disease were identified and questioned with regard to their anginal symptoms within the last month.  The patients filled out a survey that the doctors did not see.  The doctors then evaluated the patient.

Based upon provider-patient communication in the office setting, the doctor then made a recommendation for diagnostic testing or increased titration of medication.  The results were very eye-opening.  Instead of the outcomes being similar as one would hope, they were different.  

Different perspectives

So what does this tell us?   From a healthcare professional’s perspective, it says that effective communication is critical when the patient and physician are together. Providing quality patient education and effective communication in the clinical setting is a vital component of every doctor visit.  When patients are present in our clinics we know that we have their undivided attention, and can control what type of education they are provided at that moment.

From a nurse’s perspective, I feel that this article gives us an opportunity to look at how we interact with our patients from the moment they walk into the clinic to the moment they leave.  The better we can convey to them what symptoms to look for and what to report, the better the outcomes can be, whether given to the physician verbally or in a survey.  When patients know what information is critical, they can then report it appropriately.  

Ensure patients are involved

We should take every opportunity we can to ensure the patients feel involved in their care and treatment plans, which includes learning and educating.  We can help accomplish this by involving them with decision making (when applicable and reasonable) and with educating them about their disease or disease process.

The CardioVisual app is a great example of a patient-education tool that can be used not only in an office setting, but also at home to reiterate what patients learned while in the office.  Empowering patients with information and education is priceless when it helps improve communication and therefore better outcomes.