Hospitals turn to patient 'passports' to boost communication

Many hospitals now issue "passports" to patients to bridge common doctor-patient communication gaps, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Patient passports, like travel passports, are documents that contain a patient's essential medical information, such as current prescription drugs and medical diagnoses, as well as treatment preferences. Participating hospitals use them to help reduce the communication gap that often leaves patients feeling as though they lack input in their own care decisions, according to the article. The passports allow patients to provide information, such as any concerns they might have about hospitalization, their quality-of-life goals for after discharge and any troubles they might have coping with health conditions.

The passports are meant "to even the playing field and improve the quality of conversations that lead to deeper and more trusting relationships between providers and patients," Susan Frampton, president of Planetree, a nonprofit hospital membership group that promotes patient-centered care, told the Journal. Last year Planetree collaborated with the National Quality Forum to develop a passport, basing it on a pediatric passport used at Los Angeles' Mattel Children's Hospital UCLA.

Planetree also develops pilot programs with member hospitals, under which patients complete passports upon admission and keep paper or digital copies for any future visits. The program tailors passports to specific subcategories, such as seniors or cancer patients, according to the article.

Derby, Connecticut's Griffin Hospital is also planning a passport program to improve patient engagement and involve them in aspects of planning such as end-of-life care, working in conjunction with local senior centers and community groups to get patient information for the passports ahead of hospitalization.

"We want patient preferences to be honored all the time to the extent possible, and for our team to know who they are as a person," Todd Liu, vice president of accountable care and general counsel at Griffin, told the Journal.

A 2014 American Society for Quality survey of health quality improvement experts named involving patients in their own care and helping them understand the process as a way of reducing preventable readmissions, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

To learn more:
- here's the article
- read about the NQF program