Common Roadblocks in Systems for Communicating Test Results to Patients

March 21, 2014 | Strategic Insights for Ambulatory Care


​Unclear policies, insufficient training, and difficulty maintaining confidentiality were among the top barriers medical office staff experienced in ordering tests and communicating results to patients, finds a study published February 6, 2014, in BMJ Open. The findings underscore persistent problems with follow-up and confidentiality that can be targeted for improvement. Researchers interviewed 40 staff members whose duties included communicating test results to patients. Four key themes were identified as common difficulties. The first, system variations and weaknesses, included problems like the lack of standard procedures and insufficient training on procedures. Standard policies and procedures are needed to ensure consistent follow-up, but were lacking in most organizations. Next, communication from physicians to administrators was often ambiguous.

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