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Communication Breakdown…My Patient Story – Communication Solutions Series

Posted on November 12, 2015 I Written By

The following is a guest blog post by Brittany Quemby,  Marketing Manager of Stericycle Communication Solutions as part of the Communication Solutions Series of blog posts. Follow and engage with them on Twitter: @StericycleComms
Brittany Quemby - Stericycle
Recently I booked my annual well-woman exam appointment with my family physician.  I went through my regular rigmarole of calling in several times in the morning as quite often I am disconnected before I even get a ring tone.  When I finally was able to connect with the office, I was put on hold right away.  Unfortunately, this is typical for my doctor’s office, so I was prepared to work at my desk for several minutes until someone could get to my call.

After about 15 minutes, the front staff picked up my call and asked for my details.  I let them know that I would like to book my annual physical with my family physician in the next couple of weeks.  She proceeded to tell me that unfortunately, my family physician could only accommodate me on a Tuesday at 12pm and the next available Tuesday was in 3 weeks.  Admittedly, I was a bit annoyed that it would take me that long to get an appointment and that the only available times were mid-day, but I agreed to the appointment and put the date in my calendar and made plans to be in town in three weeks.  You see, I work in the city, so I have to do some finagling with my schedule to accommodate midweek appointments in town.

Fast forward two and a half weeks, I get a call from my doctor’s office letting me know that unfortunately my doctor was out of town and had to cancel my appointment and it could be rescheduled in another 3 weeks.  A bit annoyed, I agreed to the next appointment and again put the date in my calendar and arranged to be in town that day for my appointment.

It was a week later, when I got another call from the doctor’s office saying that my physician had to cancel all appointments due to an emergency and my appointment would be rescheduled in another 2 weeks.  At this point, I was quite irritated and nearly lost my cool on the phone, but agreed to the next available appointment as I would be traveling the next month for several weeks and wanted to make sure I completed my appointment before then. As I had done before, I made arrangements with work to be in town during the day of my appointment.

By the time my appointment came around, it had been well over two months since I had first made my original call and my appointment had been rescheduled three different days, along with three different times.  The morning of my appointment, I looked in my calendar to double check the time of my appointment.  My calendar noted that it was at 11:30am, however due to the amount of rescheduling, I began to second guess if I had the right date and time.   I also began to wonder if there was anything I needed to do to prep for my appointment.  I had been too concerned during the rescheduling calls to ensure I could get an appointment that I couldn’t remember if I needed to do or bring anything to my appointment.

In an effort to make sure I was prepared, I called my doctor’s office to confirm these details.  When I called the office, I was again put on hold for about 10 minutes. When the front office staff picked up the phone, I asked her to confirm the date, time and details for my appointment.  She confirmed it was that day and it was at 11:00am (not 11:30am) and that I should be prepared to give a urine sample and to have my blood taken.  She also proceeded to tell me that unfortunately, my doctor was called out and he has another doctor covering for him who would do my annual physical.

As I hung up the phone, completely irritated at the turn of events, I couldn’t help but think several things about this entire experience:

  1. Why was it ok to keep someone on hold for over 30 minutes in total to make a single appointment at my doctor’s office?
  2. Why did it take me over two and a half months to actually get this appointment?
  3. Now that I have the appointment, why am I having it with a doctor who I have never met and the only reason I know this is because I called in to verify my appointment information?
  4. Why did I even have to call to ensure I was properly prepared for my appointment?
  5. Is there not a better way?
  6. And, how is my doctor’s office able to function like this daily? Isn’t their schedule a jumbled unpredictable mess, and don’t patients come in unprepared and confused about their appointment times?

As I drove to my appointment, I thought of my massage therapy appointment I had been to just weeks before which was a completely different experience:

  • I booked my appointment online
  • I was able to see all of the open upcoming appointment that were available with my massage therapist
  • Once I confirmed the date and time, I received an email reminder for the date of my appointment with a link to directions and a link to add the appointment to my calendar
  • A few days before my appointment, I got a call from my massage therapist office reminding me of my appointment
  • The day of my appointment, I received a text message reminder that my appointment was only a couple of hours away
  • I arrived on time, prepared and completely satisfied with my experience

I know there has been a lot of discussion recently over whether healthcare organizations should take more of a “customer” “vendor” relationship with their patients. Although, this conversation goes much deeper than just communications, I think when it comes to patient communications we should absolutely start treating patients like customers if that means ensuring that patients have the information about their appointments that they need when they need it. Communication is the foundation of any relationship, whether it be vendor and consumer or provider and patient.

The Communication Solutions Series of blog posts is sponsored by Stericycle Communication Solutions, a leading provider of high quality telephone answering, appointment scheduling, and automated communication services. Stericycle Communication Solutions combines a human touch with innovative technology to deliver best-in-class communication services.  Connect with Stericycle Communication Solutions on social media:  @StericycleComms

Build Your Own EHR, EMR Patient Satisfaction, and Social Media in EMR

Posted on August 18, 2013 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of and John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

It looks like Dr. Rob Lamberts is crazy. It’s nice of Farzad to support him. I think Dr. Lamberts response to Farzad was enlightening as well: “Thanks. More endurance than luck, though.” He’s right. None of the individual components of an EHR are technically very hard, but the number of components you have to build is HUGE.

This is a perception thing for sure. We are trained that technology improves whatever it touches. So, when a patient sees a doctor with an EMR, they believe it will mean better quality care. Reminds me of the “Got EMR?” campaign I talked with people about 7 or 8 years ago.

I question the value of having a patient’s social profile in your EMR. However, I think the concept of looking at your EMR as a CRM for patients could become a very important concept over the next 5 years. I think it will take more than just putting in a patient’s social profile though.

EMRs and Patient Satisfaction

Posted on August 7, 2013 I Written By

James Ritchie is a freelance writer with a focus on health care. His experience includes eight years as a staff writer with the Cincinnati Business Courier, part of the American City Business Journals network. Twitter @HCwriterJames.

When it comes to keeping patients happy, EMRs matter, a new study suggests.

More patients are logging on to access their own records – and they tend to like it, according to data from research firms Aeffect and 88 Brand Partners. About 24 percent of patients have used EMRs for tasks such as checking test results, ordering medication refills and making appointments. And 78 percent of those patients reported being satisfied with their doctors, compared with 68 percent of those who hadn’t used EMRs.

“EMR users are telling us that they are more confident in the coordination of care they’re being provided, and think more highly of their doctors, simply because of the information technology in use,” Michael McGuire, director of strategy for Chicago-based 88 Brand Partners, said in a press release.

Patient satisfaction is fast becoming a top priority in health care as it determines a growing portion of providers’ reimbursement. So far, it’s mainly been an issue for hospitals. Their patient satisfaction survey results make up 30 percent of  their quality score in Medicare’s “value-based purchasing” program, part of the Affordable Care Act. In fiscal 2013, hospitals saw 1 percent of their Medicare reimbursement put at risk based on the overall score, which also considers performance on clinical measures. The figure will increase to 2 percent by fiscal 2017. Private insurers are also starting to link payments with quality scores.

The trend is now taking hold outpatient clinics, as well. About 2 percent of primary-care doctors’ compensation is tied to patient satisfaction measures, and the figure is likely to grow in coming years, according to a recent report from the Medical Group Management Association. Specialist physicians reported, on average, that 1 percent of their salary hinged on patient satisfaction.

Patients cited several reasons for preferring that their doctors use EMRs, according to the EMR Patient Impact Study from Aeffect and 88 Brand Partners. Among them were ease of access to information and the perceived clarity and thoroughness of communication that the records systems provide. And adoption rates could be set to go higher: 52 percent of survey respondents said they aren’t using an EMR yet, but would be interested in trying one. Only 18 percent said they had no interest.

A host of other factors, such as level of attention and ease of making appointments, also factored into patient satisfaction, according to the survey of 1,000 consumers. But for doctors who have implemented EMRs, getting their patients to log on might be a simple way to create a more loyal following. In many cases, according to the survey, EMR-using patients had adopted the technology after being encouraged by a physician.

Clinician Adoption of Healthcare Tech, Patient Satisfaction, and Safety: #HITsm Chat Highlights

Posted on November 3, 2012 I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

Topic One: What are keys for successful, sustained clinician adoption of healthcare technology?

Topic Two: How can we improve patient satisfaction? #patientexperience


Topic Three: What is #healthIT’s role in patient safety?


Topic Four:  When is a low-tech solution better than high-tech?