In order to deliver quality healthcare, a doctor and patient must have a clear, ongoing form of communication, noted a 2010 study published in the Ochsner Journal. Otherwise, treatment can suffer. Suzanne Bopp of The Hospitalist wrote that strong communication between the two parties is crucial to quality care, but it's also an ongoing problem for hospitals. Some patients have trouble understanding medical plans. Others may face language barriers. Many patients are too busy and forget to schedule follow-up appointments, and the practices may not send reminders.
"New developments in technology are helping strengthen communication for doctors and patients."
New developments in healthcare technology are helping to strengthen these lines of communication for happier doctors and patients. There is a class of innovative products known as patient relationship management systems, or PRMs, that aim to make this communication easier and more effective for both parties. WebMD and Salesforce are both part of the PRM market, along with startups like Healthloop.
Some examples of how PRMs can bridge this gap include:
- Translation: Many patients speak different languages than their physicians. A PRM can translate messages between the two, so doctors will understand patient symptoms and questions, while patients will understand doctors' advice.
- Digital patient records: A major pain point when visiting the doctor is having to fill out a long informational form. PRM tools can automatically synchronize with digital check-in tools, saving patients time and ensuring that the information is accurate. Medical practices can also invite patients to join an emailing list to receive news and updates.
- HIPAA compliance: Discussing medical records is challenging for physicians, who have to adhere to HIPAA's privacy regulations. A PRM can keep private information secure under several layers, making sure that sensitive information doesn't get out.
- Cloud-based solutions: Cloud-based PRMs "give small practices access to hospital-grade technology," said Jared Alviso of Advance Health Network. Doctors and patients are able to communicate digitally without relying on certain types of hardware.
Digital health innovations such as PRMs help practices and hospitals deliver quality care through superior communication. These are just some examples of intuitive healthcare technology delivering a better experience for patients and physicians.