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Effective provider-patient communication is known to be related to improved clinical outcomes, medication adherence, readmission rates, and patient satisfaction…and to building trust.  Transparency and open communication are basic tenets of the Communication, Apology, and Resolution (CARe) Program.  When something unexpected happens to a patient, the trusting relationship the provider has established with that patient may make the difference between an amicable, fair resolution and a lawsuit.

Recently, 130 Baystate Medical Center hospitalists and residents participated in an innovative simulation-based training and peer review program to enhance their communication skills. Watch the video here.   The person in charge of the physician communication project is Dr. Adrianne Seiler, Associate Medical Director at Baycare Health Partners, which is a physician/hospital organization that includes Baystate Health’s hospitals and about 1,250 physicians in about 200 medical practices.  Dr. Seiler believes that communication skills are critical to the patient experience—making sure that patients feel involved and understand what’s going on with their care, and that “they’re in it together.”  Training programs like this help our providers feel more comfortable with the CARe process allowing them to build trusting relationships with their patients.

Building awareness of the CARe process is critical to the success of the program. All new providers are educated on the CARe process during Baystate orientation, and presentations are given to physicians, nurses, and hospital leadership on an ongoing basis to serve as a reminder of the CARe program. In addition, a poster has recently been developed outlining the key steps to take when a serious unexpected outcome happens to a patient, and is displayed in areas where providers gather, such as lounges and break rooms.  Finally, a small, laminated card with abbreviated information and key contact numbers is also being produced for providers to attach to their identification badge holder.

Enhancing physician communication skills and ongoing provider education are paramount to creating a CARe culture, and are a priority at Baystate Health. What innovative programs or initiatives have been successful in creating or moving toward a CARe culture in your institution?

Written by: Suzanne Dodson, MACRMI Project Manager, Baystate Health, in collaboration with Heather Beattie, Director, Patient Safety & Risk Management, Baystate Health.

October, 2014

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