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The Joint Commission International, a global accrediting organization that focuses on providing quality patient-centered care, is one of the world's most well-known accrediting organizations. Coordinating and streamlining patient safety solutions in the medical tourism industry helps to provide consistent, across-the-board care.
Patient safety helps reduce infection rates, increases safe and effective medical practices, technologies and procedures in regard to patient care, enhances communication, and ensures that the correct procedure is performed for the correct body site, among many others considerations.
Because of the increase in medical travelers crossing borders to foreign destinations where language and communication barriers may interfere with quality patient care, patients from around the world should understand the basics regarding communication between providers, patients, and in transferring adequate medical information in order to provide continuity of care across borders.
The Importance of Communication
Continuity of care is essential when seeing more than one doctor, regardless of where they're located. A medical patient traveling from the United States to South America or Southeast Asia or Central Europe for care or treatment relies on accurate communication between his primary care provider in his country of origin and his care provider in the foreign destination. This communication is necessary for specialized outpatient care, primarily care, any type of surgery or procedure, diagnosis, or treatment as well as post-surgical or rehabilitative care.
Gaps in communication cause interruption in continuity of care as well as confusion regarding diagnoses, prognosis, medications, procedure and post-surgical care. Transfer of information between medical providers is the focus of accrediting organizations and quality medical providers offering resources and information regarding medical tourism and foreign destinations and providers, such as PlacidWay.
Information typically communicated between medical providers may include a patient's personal and social history, current medical condition, diagnoses, care plan and prognosis, as well as recommendations for surgical procedures or treatments for specific conditions. In addition, information should include recent changes in the patient's status, potential complications and any current health conditions that additional providers need to be aware of.
Reducing risks of miscommunication or inadequate communication between providers involves reducing the steps or "hoops" patients need to jump through in order to facilitate care with multiple providers in more than one destination.
For example, the communication and patient safety is facilitated by:
- Providing specific information regarding medications, treatment and the patient's current status
- Limiting information to the basics required to provide quality and safe care
- Confirming or repeating information via fax, e-mail, telephone, or in person whenever possible
- Adequate flow of information, discharge instructions, diagnosis, medications, test results and treatment plans, progress notes and consultation notes between medical providers
Information and Patient Involvement in Care
Patients should be aware, educated, and involved in their own care process. Understanding their medical conditions and treatment plans are essential to understanding the importance of following medication guidelines, treatment protocols, and follow-ups.
Patients aware of the names of their medications, what dosages to take and the best time to take those medications are more involved in self-care and reduce their risk of drug interactions or misuse.
Patients informed regarding the current state of their health, prognosis and a step-by-step understanding of their treatment plan and care are better able to assist in their own care and understand that steps being taken by medical providers to ensure quality care, health care standards and quality of life.
The Joint Commission International and the World Health Organization recommend certain steps to ensure optimal patient handovers or transfer of patients from one provider to another, regardless of country of origin and medical tourism destination. These steps include:
- Developing maintainable and standardized approaches to communication between providers
- Ensuring that providers responsible for care receive up-to-date information regarding the patient's medications, treatment plans, status, and prognosis as well as recommendations or consultations
- Educating and informing patients regarding their current condition, status, and options for treatment
- Maintaining a consistent approach between facilitators to reduce confusion
- Ensuring adequate communication between patients and medical provider as well as between medical providers to ensure information transfer has been completed and that adequate time has been allowed to ask or respond to questions or concerns
- Verification and understanding of communications, information and medical records to ensure accuracy
Communication is the foundation of patient safety and care. Ensuring adequate transfer of information, understanding of that information and open lines of communication between providers as well as patients and providers will facilitate more effective and quality healthcare scenarios for patients and their caregivers around the world.
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2011-01-25 / Updated on: 2021-01-08