The study reveals that patients showed "more appreciation that the physician cared enough to make contact," Patel says. "There's been a reaction of, 'Wow, thank you for the call,' " he adds. "There is 'thanks' for showing caring and concern and following up."
While the study has not focused on potential impacts on outcomes, Patel says he believes the added communication would have a beneficial effect. "Any time there is communication between physician and patient, it can improve outcomes," Patel explains.
"Having the opportunity to contact the patient after the ED visit, physicians can stress the importance of care," Patel adds. For instance, if the post-ED care instructions are to "keep your arm elevated," the physician can reiterate that important pointer. "It gives a second chance to confirm information," he notes.
In the complex and expensive world of healthcare, the ED email and phone exchanges can be of "critical importance because you can't cut costs unless you involve a patient in healthcare," Patel says. "This is a simple and efficient way to have physicians and patients involved."