As one of the activities in the Patient Experience Action Community sponsored by California Healthcare Foundation, the West County Health Centers (WCHC) team identified the Visit Summary as an “always event” to improve patient experience. The purpose is to improve patient care and communication by giving each patient a printed summary of every visit with their medical provider.
The identified benefits are:
- Improved patient understanding of treatment plans, medication, etc.
- Decreased patient phone calls
- Improved patient follow up and compliance
- Meet Meaningful Use and PCMH requirements
The Visit Summary is printed from the electronic health record at the end of each visit and reviewed with the Medical Assistant. The summary includes: vitals, allergies, medications, patient instructions, referrals and next appointment. We piloted the process at one site with one provider focusing first on patients with chronic disease. We eventually transitioned to printed visit summaries for all patients at the pilot site and we are now spreading to our other primary care centers.
Barriers and challenges include:
- Workflow redesign takes time;
- Providers need to complete necessary charting so that the medical assistant can review the visit summary with patients at the end of each visit.
- Our electronic health record is currently English only, limiting the value for our Spanish-speaking patients.
Overall, patient feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Patients have expressed that they feel heard by their provider and that they find the summary useful to track their progress and communicate with other doctors. Staff have also expressed that the process has greatly improved communication between provider and patient with better patient understanding about the care plan, medications and follow-up care. WCHC wants patient who are informed and active decision makers working in partnership with prepared, proactive Care Teams. The Visit Summary has engaged patients and improved our overall team efficiency while helping us to achieve greater patient and staff satisfaction. View the Visit Summary Poster.
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