Outpatient department correspondences: what are the urology patients’ views?
Keywords:Correspondence, letters, outpatient clinic, patient choice, patient satisfaction, person-centered medicine
AbstractRationale of the study: The UK NHS department of health policy to copy patients into the outpatient correspondence sent to their general practitioners (GPs) is proving to be a controversial issue with conflicting views regarding its usefulness. We conducted an outpatient survey to assess the views of urological patients about receiving copies of outpatient letters sent to other clinicians following their consultation. We also explored their thoughts on having such letters dictated in their presence.Methods: Patients attending urology outpatient clinic appointments were asked to complete an anonymised standard questionnaire. They were asked if they wished to receive a copy of any outpatient department correspondence and, if so, what form of correspondence (postal or e-mail) they would prefer. Patients were asked if they preferred to be present when their clinician dictated the letter and if they would be prepared to fund such a serviceResults: Out of the 458 completed questionnaires, 394, (86%), were in favour of receiving copies of correspondence arising from their consultation. Out of those 394 patients, 351 patients (89%) expressed a preference to receive letters while only 43 (11%) patients preferred e-mail communication. Of those patients wishing to receive copies of their correspondence, 225 (57%) wished for this correspondence to be dictated in their presence and 232 (59%) were willing to pay a nominal fee to cover the postal and administrative costs of such a service.Conclusion: The majority of urological patients are in favour of receiving copies of outpatient correspondence arising as a consequence of their consultation. More than half opted to be present in the clinic during the dictation of any correspondence which offers the added advantage of allowing explanation of medical terms and ensures patient and physician agreement. Our study shows that urology patients are in favour of this policy and therefore, we recommend that all patients be sent copies of all correspondence relating to their care and that patients are given the option to be present during such dictation.
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