Scheduling Communications with Family

Are you over-scheduled?

Many households are incredibly over-scheduled even during a time of work-from-home, virtual school, and Zoom meetings.   There is no doubt that a hospital visit by someone in the family unit would topple an otherwise hectic schedule.

While hospitals have implemented COVID preventative systems and preparedness, most have yet to set forth strategies to ensure they are attentive to the support the patient will have after being discharged home from a planned or unplanned hospital visit.

With good reason, most visiting hours have been eliminated or severely restricted.  This means that connecting with family members and caregivers has become more difficult.  Although time has been spent on exceptions, such as those for end of life and religious services, there is a need to address the various family and extended family members and how we keep them informed and involved.

Just like discharge planning, the plan for connecting with the family or helping household is necessary for all patients and should be started within 24 hours of the admission and updated thereafter.

A model to ’help the household’ starts with these questions:

  • Does the hospital ask whether updates are preferred via text/phone/email?
  • Can the hospital schedule the updates and communications or does the hospital expect the family to ‘pull’ information from electronic record apps like MyChart?
  • If scheduling is part of the process, is the family member provided a specific time or a window of time?
  • Will the doctor, nurse or other provider accept calls during rounds on certain days or for certain patients?

The timing, scripting, tracking and ownership of these communications must be planned. The family or ‘home team’ needs to feel informed about the patient and educated about expectations and next steps.  This prevents re-admission and furthers care coordination.  It also helps avoid collapsing an otherwise overloaded family schedule.

How are your clinical teams connecting with the family or household?

Need help with a model for successful connections? www.envisionbetterhealth.org

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