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The Healing Power of Communication: Enhancing Patient Adherence, Engagement, and Reducing Readmissions

In the realm of modern healthcare, effective communication is the cornerstone of successful patient outcomes. Beyond diagnoses and prescriptions, the ways that healthcare providers communicate with patients play a pivotal role in fostering adherence to medication regimens, care plans, and overall patient engagement. This blog post delves into the benefits of meaningful communication, drawing on studies and examples that highlight its impact on patient adherence, engagement, and the reduction of readmissions.

Potential Obstacles of Patient Adherence and Engagement

Engaged patients are more likely to follow their treatment plans, which leads to lower hospital readmission rates and healthcare costs. Many issues can arise when patients do not adhere to treatment plans from providers.

Challenges with healthcare literacy: A lack of understanding by the patient can result in frustration and withdrawal from communicating with their provider. Patients have a role in communicating their symptoms and progress.

Language Barrier: Language barriers can be a massive obstacle to patient adherence. If they don’t understand what you’re asking of them, they won’t engage in or adhere to their treatment. The need for an interpreter can result in additional costs for the healthcare organization.

Low motivation: Patients may have low motivation to upkeep their treatment plans based on a perceived lack of efficacy. A thorough explanation of treatment plans, medication, and communication expectations by healthcare professionals can help patients see the value of adhering to and engaging in their treatment plans.

Healthcare Workflow | Patient Engagement | Clinical Communication

3 Benefits of Open Patient-Provider Communication

Open communication between patients and providers improves patient adherence and engagement in treatment plans. While there are many benefits of clear communication, these are the top three.

1. Improving Medication Adherence

Patient adherence to medication regimens is a complex and multifaceted challenge. Research consistently indicates that communication between healthcare providers and patients significantly influences medication adherence. Clear, patient-centered communication fosters understanding, addresses concerns, and empowers patients and their families to actively participate in their treatment plans.

Example: Consider a diabetic patient prescribed a new insulin regimen. A healthcare provider who takes the time to explain the importance of adherence, addresses potential side effects, and discusses the patient's concerns is more likely to see improved compliance.

2. Boosting Patient Engagement

Engaged patients are more likely to take an active role in managing their health. Effective communication builds trust and partnership between healthcare providers and patients, leading to increased engagement in their care. Engaged patients are more likely to ask questions, share relevant information, and collaborate on developing realistic care plans.

Example: A patient diagnosed with a chronic condition, such as hypertension, is more likely to actively engage in lifestyle modifications and adhere to medication when healthcare providers communicate the long-term benefits and potential risks of non-adherence and involve the patient in decision-making.

3. Decreasing Readmissions

Effective communication is a powerful tool in preventing hospital readmissions. When healthcare providers maintain open lines of communication, they can monitor patients' progress, address issues promptly, and provide necessary support, reducing the likelihood of complications that could lead to hospital readmission.

Example: A heart failure patient who receives consistent follow-up communication, including regular check-ins, remote monitoring, and clear instructions for symptom management, is less likely to experience exacerbations that could result in readmission.

Communication Strategies for Healthcare Providers

One of the ways to overcome the obstacle of patient adherence and improve engagement is to communicate in a way that patients and their families understand. They are likely not in the healthcare field and may not understand the terminology your team uses every day. Instead, communicate in a way the patient can relate to and understand.

Simple and streamlined communication ensures patients know how to communicate with their provider. Backline allows users to reach out directly to a patient or family member simply and securely through text, voice, or video without the need to download an app. This enables timely follow-up care, and it's an easy way to increase patient engagement.

Communication is not just a means of transmitting information; it's a powerful tool for improving patient outcomes. By recognizing the importance of clear, patient-centered communication, healthcare providers can positively impact medication adherence, boost patient engagement, and decrease the likelihood of hospital readmissions. As the healthcare landscape evolves, embracing effective communication strategies will be essential for delivering patient-centered care and achieving optimal health outcomes.

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Reference: Sabate E. Adherence to Long-Term Therapies: Evidence for Action. World Health Organization; 2003

Reference: Graffigna G, Barello S, Bonanomi A, Menichetti J. The Motivating Function of Healthcare Professional in eHealth and mHealth Interventions for Type 2 Diabetes Patients and the Mediating Role of Patient Engagement. J Diabetes Res. 2016;2016:2974521

Reference: Hansen LO, Young RS, Hinami K, Leung A, Williams MV. Interventions to Reduce 30-Day Rehospitalization: A Systematic Review. Ann Intern Med. 2011;155(8):520-528.