Medical errors are rare, but when they do happen, it’s often during transitions of care. A transition of care happens when patients move throughout the healthcare system, changing providers. If not managed effectively, a transition can lead to inconsistencies and present opportunities for errors. For example, records may be misplaced or key details could be overlooked. The Joint Commission, a nonprofit that accredits 22,000 healthcare organizations and sets the standard for care, cites that “80 percent of serious medical errors involve miscommunication during the handoff between medical providers.”
Experienced health advisors help clients manage transitions as smooth and effectively as possible. A tight handoff between medical providers is essential for better care coordination. Over the years, the Better Health Advisors team has assisted clients with care transitions, such as moving from rehabilitation facilities to sober living arrangements, discharging from hospitals to long-term care, changing doctors after moving to a new city, or arranging for home health care.
The BHA team recommends four actions you can take to support a seamless transition of care:
1. Be prepared: Have a list of current medications (with dosage), allergies, and any critical medical history on hand. This way, if your medical records are not quickly transferred from one provider to another, you can supply this information to the appropriate providers.
2. Ask questions: If something doesn’t make sense to you, ask questions—and don’t be afraid to ask for clarity until you understand the answers. Asking questions about the details of your care will inform your decision-making.
3. Be Proactive in Asking for Help: Any time there is a transition of care, consider bringing a knowledgeable family member, trusted friend, or advisor with you to your appointments.
4. Request that your providers speak with each other: A warm handoff from one provider to another helps ensure that valuable information doesn’t get lost. If your primary care physician is referring you to a physical therapist, for example, it is a good idea to have the doctors speak with each other prior to your appointment.
BHA understands that movement between medical providers leaves room for error. That’s why we partner with a client’s providers across specialties and organizations to make the process as seamless as possible. We manage the care transitions, so our clients can focus on staying healthy.