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Waiting room tool aids patient-physician communication

(HealthDay)—Patients who use a simple waiting room tool are more prepared and more likely to begin heir primary care visit by communicating their top priorities, according to a study published in the March/April issue of the Annals of Family Medicine.

Richard W. Grant, M.D., M.P.H., from Kaiser Permanente Northern California in Oakland, and colleagues designed and tested the Visit Planner waiting room tool to guide adult patients through the process of identifying their top priorities for their visit and effectively expressing these priorities to their clinician. Eligible participants (750 patients) had at least one clinical care gap (e.g., overdue for cancer screening, suboptimal chronic disease risk factor control, or medication nonadherence).

The researchers found that compared with usual care patients, intervention patients more often reported “definitely” preparing questions for their doctor (59.5 versus 45.1 percent; P < 0.001) and "definitely" expressing their top concerns at the beginning of the visit (91.3 versus 83.3 percent: P = 0.005). Patients reported similarly high levels of satisfaction with their care regardless of group (P = 0.20). Additionally, over six months of follow-up, the prevalence of clinical care gaps was similar in both study arms.

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