Communication Mapping to Improve Patient Experience

Patient Experience is a rapidly growing measurement for determining provider revenue under Pay for Performance reimbursement models. It has been demonstrated that this measurement also has significant influence on patient engagement, compliance and clinical outcomes. Equally important, communication has been identified as a major contributing factor in modulating the kind of Patient Experience outcomes that are collected and analyzed by healthcare providers using system-specific versions of the Healthcare Consumers Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems survey (HCAHPS).

An analysis of Consumer Health Beliefs and Value Expectancy principles clearly identifies communication during healthcare interactions as a major influence on Patient Experience outcomes. Moreover, it is not only the quality of communication, but the consistency and duration across the care spectrum…hence the challenge.

No other consumer-centric system of service has as many communication “touch-points” as healthcare, no other system has as many consumer entry points as healthcare, and no other system has as many variations in the number of people communicating with the consumer as healthcare. Adding to this conundrum is the fact that some consumer interactions with healthcare providers and systems are emotionally charged.

Communication Model: Reducing Noise

The communication model illustrated above can be used to demonstrate a process that enhances interactions with healthcare consumers at each touch-point along the interaction spectrum with a focus on eliminating the kind of noise that interferes with comprehension and feedback. In some instances, noise can cause a complete “circuit break” in the communication process where no communication actually occurs. Here are a few circuit breakers:

  • Using medical jargon with patients instead of communicating in common-use terms

  • Not understanding the patient's health beliefs, expectancy, level of activation or healthcare literacy

  • Showing lack of knowledge regarding clinical or personal information

  • Not encouraging feedback during interactions (teach back)

  • Interrupting the patient while they are encoding a message

  • Poor eye contact

  • Body language that resonates “Let’s get this over with.”

  • Poor active listening skills

  • Improper or cultural demeaning salutation

  • Allowing unnecessary interruptions during interactions

  • Providing written information that is difficult to decode

Sequential Communication Mapping can be used to identify those “touch points” that can influence interactions with providers and systems leading to higher Patient Experience Scores. The entry points can include the following: