Be Ready For Your Next Doctor's Appointment
“… Your clinician works hard to keep you healthy, but quality health care is a team effort.” — Agency for HealthCare Quality Research
TRICARE’s Health Programs Analysis & Evaluation Office created a patient checklist as a guide to help patients communicate with their doctors. Section one covers information the patient should get from his or her doctor. Section two details information the doctor should get from the patient:
A patient’s health involves a relationship between the patient and physician. The patient should have all of the information needed to be able to make informed decisions about his/her health care. The physician should also be aware of any aspects of the patient’s health that are relevant to the current health issue. It is the patient’s responsibility to monitor his/her health care by ensuring he/she has all of the information needed and has told the physician any pertinent information.
Patients and providers agree that both parties should be prepared for a medical interview, bringing all relevant information and asking appropriate questions. In addition, patients should be taught skills in effectively providing information to their doctors. (Cegala DJ et al., 2004) The largest proportion of health care is delivered in doctors’ offices and clinics, with 75 percent of physician visits ending with a prescription. As a result, physicians in survey results describing physicians’ views of safely prescribing medication in ambulatory settings suggested low-cost initiatives such as placing a poster to remind patients to bring their medications to visits. (Rundall TG et al., 2005) Another study found that interventions with effective communication tools, such as a checklist or coaching, immediately before a patient’s medical encounter provided significant increases in question asking by patients and increases in patient satisfaction. “Providing information [to patients from their health care provider] is important as it helps patients recall, understand and follow treatment advice and be more satisfied”. (Kinnersley P et al., 2007)
Results of the TRICARE’s 2006 Health Care Survey of DoD Beneficiaries (HCSDB) indicated that doctors’ communication was the primary driver of overall satisfaction with one’s health care plan, above all other domains of care including getting needed care, getting care quickly, courteous staff, and customer service. The Defense Health Agency (DHA) conducts the HCSDB survey annually in order to assess beneficiaries’ satisfaction with their health care plan, and systematically compares the results to the 2006 National Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) Benchmarking Database estimates. These benchmarks provide information to consumers about quality and satisfaction of care from the perspective of the patient. Both the HCSDB and CAHPS Benchmarking Database estimates are tracked over time and subsequently contribute to improving the quality of care and health care satisfaction.