Over the past few years, patient care quality has fluctuated as hospital organizations and care teams have remained in survival mode, grappling with emergency rooms overrun with COVID-19 patients and nursing labor shortages. Unfortunately, that means continuity of care inevitably suffers. Opportunities for preventative healthcare in general practices may have been overlooked, leading to delayed diagnoses. Many patients skipped regular checkups with general practitioners due to fear of COVID-19 exposure, and several practitioners may have been involved in a patient’s treatment plan, causing miscommunication and a disconnect when prescribing treatments.

It is paramount that healthcare providers adhere to standards of continuity of care, including regular follow-ups with patients post-hospital discharge, using care plans to actively involve patients in their healthcare journey, and properly documenting patient information in medical records and on transfer and referral paperwork. When these critical steps are ignored or dismissed, negative patient experiences occur, and continuity of care comes to a screeching halt.

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Improve Patient Engagement With a Collaborative Communication Platform

Poor continuity of care often results in far-reaching adverse outcomes that profoundly impair patient health. Fragmented or inconsistent care can lead to hospital readmissions, decreased patient retention, and other severe health consequences. Key issues include the increased risk of medical errors, misdiagnoses, and medication mix-ups due to a lack of complete patient information and inadequate communication between healthcare providers. This can result in delayed or inappropriate treatments, worsening conditions, and unnecessary complications.

Moreover, poor continuity of care can cause patients to feel overwhelmed and unsupported, eroding their trust in the healthcare system. Through advanced technologies like the TigerConnect Clinical Collaboration Platform and TigerConnect Patient Engagement, care teams can address these pain points and meet their goals for establishing positive patient outcomes. Here are three ways these solutions can help improve continuity of care:

1. Enhances interprofessional collaboration

Communication between specialists, primary care providers (PCPs), and referring providers is often disconnected and inefficient, leading to ineffective care and less-than-ideal patient outcomes. To achieve the best possible results, all providers involved in a patient’s care and treatment plan must be accurately informed of the patient’s clinical status. Alarmingly, 22% of PCPs report that they “sometimes,” “rarely,” or “never” send patient info to specialists at the time of referral, and only 65% of PCPs report that they “always” or “most of the time” receive patient info from specialists after a consultation. This lack of communication further degrades patient care. Additional issues from utilizing antiquated communication methods are that phone calls are often missed, electronic health record (EHR)-based communication is difficult or impossible across different EHRs, and many CC&C solutions don’t allow providers to communicate with providers outside their organization.

TigerConnect enables organizations to easily configure their network to include providers outside of their organization so that PCPs and specialists can communicate more easily with one another, forward messages, and send attachments. Enhanced collaboration allows care team members to communicate with each other more efficiently, in better continuity of care and more positive patient outcomes.

2. Improves care adherence and outcomes through better patient engagement

The road to perfect and easy patient engagement is paved with missed phone calls, frustration, and wasted time for patients and providers. Adding to the challenges, many hospitals and clinics use online patient portals that typically create communication barriers, especially for family members trying to access login information and download mobile apps. That’s why more than 50% of health executives are making the proper investments to increase communication between patients, their families, and their care providers.

Seamless communication with family members is also an essential but often overlooked aspect of patient engagement. Family members frequently act as at-home caregivers, assisting with transportation to appointments and keeping them accountable with medication schedules, and adhering to any diets and behaviors that directly impact their health. Easier, more efficient communication with patients and their family members reduces readmissions and improves patient outcomes.

TigerConnect Patient Engagement is a single app that helps enable better communication between patients and providers and empowers patients to participate actively in healthcare, improving their relationships with providers. It facilitates two-way communication via text, voice, or video without requiring patients to set up any logins or download apps. This enables seamless communication via secure messaging, resulting in better care adherence, improved outcomes, and reduced readmissions. It’s also a great way to align treatments with achievable patient goals and motivate them to be involved in their recovery and continuum of care. This robust and ongoing communication alleviates the stress on patients, their families, and care teams, safeguarding care continuity.

3. Increases patient retention 

We know about the nurse and physician burnout crisis, but what about patient burnout? Patients frequently report poor communication with their healthcare providers (likely due to the prevalence of phone calls and patient portals, as mentioned above). Not only can this negatively impact a patient’s health outcome, but it negatively impacts their overall experience and perception of the healthcare organization where they’re receiving treatment. This can often lead to patients seeking treatment elsewhere. In a study by The Beryl Institute, 33% of patients who had a bad healthcare experience said they’d consider switching providers for better services and a more positive experience. With patients frequently switching providers, continuity of care becomes increasingly difficult.

By connecting with patients in a more engaging and personalized manner, you can improve continuity of care and patient retention by minimizing the number of patients who end up seeking care outside of your organization. The result is patients who feel seen and heard by your organization and become lifelong patients.

Clinical communication and collaboration platforms are the cornerstones of continuity of care, ensuring that patients receive consistent, safe, and effective medical services across various healthcare settings. TigerConnect enhances information exchange, reduces medical errors, promotes patient-centered care, streamlines transitions of care, and facilitates multidisciplinary collaboration. This allows healthcare professionals to create a patient-centric healthcare ecosystem that maximizes positive outcomes. As technology advances, embracing innovative communication tools and platforms will further strengthen clinical communication and improve the continuity of care, benefiting patients and healthcare providers.

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