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How doctors communicate directly affects patient outcomes: new study

16 February 2016
The way a doctor collaborates with their hospital peers can significantly impact patient outcomes
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The way a doctor collaborates with their hospital peers can significantly impact patient outcomes, a University of Sydney researcher has found.

Patient centric care is an approach that requires increased collaboration among healthcare professionals
Dr Shahadat Uddin

Dr Shahadat Uddin, author of research published in Nature: Scientific Report’s February edition, says the varying approaches among doctors is affecting the cost of patient care, as well as the length of stay in hospital, regardless of patients' conditions.

"It doesn't appear to matter whether patients are suffering from an easy-to-recover illness or from a chronic disease,” says Dr Uddin from the University’s Complex Systems Research Group in the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technologies.

The complex systems researcher used insurance claim datasets from 85 hospitals networks to analyse patient-centric care outcomes in Australian hospitals.

Patient-centric care is a model that provides care that is respectful of and responsive to individual patient preferences, needs, and values, ensuring the patient is involved in all clinical decisions.

Dr Uddin, whose research focuses on the most effective types of network structures, believes his finding can be used to develop best practice guidelines and policies on how doctors communicate within hospital networks, particularly within a patient-centric care system.

“A patient-centric care network requires two or more physicians to collaborate in treating a corresponding patient,” Dr Uddin says

“It is an approach that requires increased collaboration among healthcare professionals when looking after patients.

“At the moment this model of care appears to lead to varying and informal ‘social’ networks among healthcare professionals,” he states.

Dr Uddin believes the findings of his study could be used to improve patient outcomes through establishing clearer guidelines on the collaboration networks or structures required among doctors. 

“We all engage in various forms of communication and collaboration in our daily lives in order to achieve specific results - with our colleagues, with people from other organisations and so on. Over time, such goal-oriented interactions give rise to informal social networks,” he says. 

Victoria Hollick

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