Physician Practice

Patient agendas can improve visits

Physician Practice Insider, April 4, 2017

Communication and visit satisfaction increased for physicians and patients when patients type an agenda into the EHR, according to a study published in the March/April issue of Annals of Family Medicine. Patients and physicians who participated in the study, conducted at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, said they wanted to continue having patients enter visit agendas in the EHR.

Patients in the study were asked to arrive 30 minutes early for their appointments. In the waiting room, they were provided with a laptop computer connected to the clinic’s EHR interface and typed a visit agenda in the progress notes field. Participating physicians reviewed the agenda before the patient entered the exam room or at the beginning of the exam. The patient-generated agendas helped the physician identify the patient’s concerns and may encourage the patient to become more engaged with his or her care, the study said.

Time is often at a premium during visits and some physicians and patients feel that changes to the way medicine is practiced have eroded the physician-patient relationship, according to the study authors. Physicians at most practices must see a certain number of patients per day and may find themselves spending more time entering information into the EHR than engaging directly with the patient. Patient-generated agendas allow the physician to organize and prioritize the visit and improved patient satisfaction, the study found.

Patient-generated agendas could also encourage patient engagement, the study said. Patient engagement can be a key part of keeping patients healthy, reducing readmissions, and treating chronic conditions. CMS launched the Person and Family Engagement strategy in December 2016 to guide stakeholders in improving patient engagement. The agency has expanded chronic care management billable codes and resources for providers and patients in recent years. And patients with chronic illnesses may be ready to take a more active and informed role in their care, according to a study released by West Healthcare in February.

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