One Holy Grail in health care (yes, there are many) is improved communication between patients and caregivers.
Better communication results in improved understanding, elevated compliance and, ultimately, higher satisfaction.
It just doesn't seem to result in getting paid.
A new study from Weill Cornell Medical Center, published in Health Affairs and reported in MobiHealthNews, shows that physicians and patients both feel portals and other digital or online communication methods are positive. The downside for doctors and hospitals is there is no way to bill for it in our current fee-for-service world.
The study said one hospital tried charging a $60 "online communication fee" to patients, but abandoned it when a competitor offered it for free.
In a focus group of Rhode Island patients I led last year, digital communication was a hot topic. One patient already communicated electronically with his doctor and care team at a Boston-based specialty hospital. The patient reported it was a key driver of his satisfaction with his care — and made him both compliant with his care plan and loyal to his doctors and hospital.
The result: Better communication equals better care. He was an engaged patient.
We know how to crack the communication problem — we need more of it and it needs to be simple to use.
Now we need reform that supports better communication by shifting reimbursement schemes for health systems and doctors to ones that encourages and rewards dialogue, collaboration and patient engagement.