Three Ways to Keep Health Quality Simple

Janice Simmons, for HealthLeaders Media , October 29, 2009

Efficiency. "Efficiency is a problem with people having to contact a [medical] staff or physician multiple times in order to try to get clarity with the information that they've been given," Bosley said.

This has become a prime issue in discharge planning from a hospital, for example, where a patient is released from a hospital with vague or unclear healthcare data—only to return a few days later.

And in physician offices, calls from patients unclear about data or directions can eat up hours of unbillable hours of care by staff on the phones. "The lack of the use of plain language increases the inefficiency," she said.

Economy. While the most important objective in healthcare is keeping the individual alive, "the second most important thing is decreasing the costs," Bosley said. And while poor communication can negatively influence a patient's quality of life and treatment decisions, it can also impact outcomes—and possible cases of malpractice.

"If physicians and hospitals improve communications with patients, they create an environment in which patients do not want to sue their doctors," Bosley said. "If the patient trusts that the doctor has explained the diagnosis and has explained the comprehensive care that they are receiving—in a language they can understand—they are much likely less to sue," she said.

Janice Simmons is a senior editor and Washington, DC, correspondent for HealthLeaders Media Online. She can be reached at

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