The quality of medical care is closely connected with communication between a healthcare specialist and a patient. The fundamental elements of patient communication include respect, understanding, empathy, and support. The construction of an effective dialogue between a doctor or a nurse and a patient is a way to collect a complete history of the disease, escape unnecessary expenses, and minimize the probability of medical errors. The present report describes the recent trends in patient communication, including electronic health records, telemedicine, and medical transportation companies.
Trend 1: Electronic Health Records
Another significant trend in communication is applying the system of electronic health records (EHR). EHR is a breakthrough in patient care because nurses do not have to search through tons of papers and documents to find relevant information on a patient’s health. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requires healthcare plans and information to be accessible and renewable. Therefore, even if a patient attended another health facility earlier, those doctors’ diagnoses and prescriptions will still be available in the system. The hospital can protect patient privacy by providing unique EHR passwords and PINs (Garrity, 2020). Encryption of medical information is also relevant, but the involvement of additional human resources can complicate decryption.
Trend 2: Telemedicine
The notion of telemedicine refers to the remote provision of medical services via a smartphone or a computer. In other words, a person receives the same medical help from a practitioner without visiting them personally. During the ongoing pandemic of COVID-19, this means of communication with patients has become immensely popular. Telemedicine is a way to “preserve scarce resources like personal protective equipment” because there is no need to wear a mask when visiting a doctor online (Calton et al., 2020, e12). Undoubtedly, a doctor cannot measure the patient’s pulse and blood pressure during an online consultation. Nonetheless, telemedicine proved helpful during the pandemic in reducing personal contact with sick people. Telemedicine services are challenging to encrypt and do not always lend themselves to complex password systems. Patients sometimes want their accounts to be active from multiple devices (laptop, home computer, smartphone) for convenience. In this situation, the entrance can be made the most accessible using the code for the phone number, which will change constantly (Bassan, 2020). However, if the phone is lost, patients’ information is compromised, and they will have to report it to their hospital.
Trend 3: Medical Transportation Companies
Medical transportation companies are another innovation in communication with patients that is becoming more and more popular. The critical advantage of such companies is that they link doctors with patients who face specific difficulties with visiting a hospital. In other words, medical transportation is a way for practitioners to communicate with patients in remote areas handicapped or just unable to come to a hospital for some other reason. Medical transportation companies generally offer such services as non-emergency delivery of a person to a hospital and personal care in the home of patients. It decreases the number of missed or canceled appointments and guarantees that a person will ultimately receive the needed help. It is challenging to protect patient’s private information in this area, and leaks happen (Garrity, 2020). It is essential to say that the technical side contributes to the protection of patient data and the administrative component.
Needs of Patients
The EHR satisfies patients’ need to access information on personal health, prescriptions, and results of analyses. Patients who use EHR do not have to store numerous papers with diagnoses and treatments, and, therefore, it is easier for them to stay informed of their health status (Garrity, 2020). Telemedicine meets patients needs in access to healthcare services whenever and wherever they need it. Furthermore, the safety of such an online visit is much higher because a patient escaped a chance to get contaminated with coronavirus. Medical transportation meets the need for access to healthcare services per se. Overall, these three trends increase the quality and safety of healthcare services.
Protection of Patient Health Information’s Privacy
The application of EHR, telemedicine, and medical transportation raises how to protect the privacy of patient health information. The most basic rule is that a hospital’s employees should not share patients information with other experts without patients agreement. The strict prohibition against posting patients information on the Internet is also a way to ensure security. These suggestions reflect HIPAA requirements on information protection, including confidentiality, respect of privacy, and personal information protection. Undoubtedly, the software could be hacked, and some people could steal all patients data. To minimize the chances of fraud, a facility should invest in cybersecurity. These three innovations make it easier for patients to access information on their health. In the case of EHR and telemedicine, a person can retrieve needed data whenever they need it. As for medical transportation, a patient who lives far away from a hospital could communicate with this service’s team members and get all the required information.
Interoperability and Continuous Care
Interoperability is the timely and secure provision of care to patients by their complaints, supported by electronic data. Interoperability can be improved with EHR as it allows nurses to access patient medical information faster and avoid tedious paperwork. Telemedicine is excellent at facilitating interoperability, allowing patients to receive quick consultations wherever they are. Medical transportation companies also encourage interoperability by allowing some patients to move quickly from home to hospital, and they sometimes act as a bridge between patient, doctor, and hospital.
The three trends above make interoperability and continuous care possible. Every clinician visited or contacted via the Internet by a patient could access the needed data, analyses, and prescriptions since they are uploaded to the EHR system. Clinicians could see whether the prospective treatment fits with the current care plan. Telemedicine and medical transportation ensure continuity of medical care because patients have almost constant access to healthcare services regardless of their location and ability to come to a hospital independently.
The primary reason these trends contribute to increased patient satisfaction with the provided care is that they empower patients and make it possible to research their care. For example, EHR reflects analyses, diagnoses, and prescribed treatment. Therefore, a patient could check this system to compare comments and check whether the treatment plan works. If it does not, a patient could visit another doctor to try other medications or procedures. Telemedicine also provides patients with more choice and freedom regarding their health because it is up to them to decide whether they need an online consultation or not. At the same time, a patient should understand that telemedicine has specific limitations compared to traditional visits. Hence, patients should decide whether they apply to their cases. Telemedicine also helps patients become more informed about medical care since they can contact their doctors quickly in case of any questions.
Medical transportation makes patients take ownership of their care since such services make it possible to claim that they require additional attention and care. If patients realize that they need to go to a hospital but have little ability to do this, they are empowered to contact the medical transportation team to get what they need. Another way in which medical transportation empowers patients is that it gives them a choice whether to accept the help of a medical transportation company or not. Besides, patients could choose between the companies and decide which one suits them most.
Bassan, S. (2020) ‘Data privacy considerations for telehealth consumers amid COVID-19’, Journal of Law and the Biosciences, 7(1). Web.
Calton, B., Abedini, N., & Fratkin, M. (2020) ‘Telemedicine in the time of coronavirus’, Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, 60(1), pp. e12-e14.
Garrity, M. (2020). Medical transportation company notifies 1,000 patients of data breach. Becker’s Healthcare. Web.
Kruse, C. S., Smith, B., Vanderlinden, H., & Nealand, A. (2017) ‘Security techniques for the electronic health records’. Journal of Medical Systems, 41(8). Web.