North Carolina Physicians Use AHRQ Materials to Boost Communication with Patients

Patient Safety
December 2015

G and G Healthcare P.C., a four-office primary care practice based in Whiteville, North Carolina, uses AHRQ’s "Questions Are the Answer" educational materials to improve communication among physicians, patients, and patients’ families.

AHRQ’s materials were introduced at G and G as part of a Federally funded Patient and Family Engagement campaign quality project. The Carolinas Center for Medical Excellence tested the impact of AHRQ’s materials at the four practices and found positive scores for patient survey questions increased from 31 percent to 100 percent over a 10-month period in 2013.

G and G "dramatically improved its patient and family engagement readiness and program implementation …" concluded the Carolinas Center for Medical Excellence, which serves as North Carolina’s Quality Improvement Organization.

"We did see a tremendous level of efficiency and improvements in patient engagement" after introducing patient-friendly brochures and notepads into the practices in 2013, said Keith Gerald, practice administrator at G and G. Use of the AHRQ materials also made the offices run more smoothly; doctor-patient discussions were more focused, resulting in more patient appointments starting on time.

"We were trying to do two things with the materials: make sure that we were communicating with the patients and streamline visits to be more effective," Mr. Gerald explained.

The brochure and notepad are part of AHRQ's "Questions Are the Answer" public education campaign that encourages patients to ask questions during their medical visits. Studies show that patients get better care when they discuss their health issues with their doctor. Be More Involved in Your Health Care is a short, easy-to-read brochure to help patients be better prepared before, during, and after medical appointments. My Questions for This Visit notepads help patients prioritize their questions for medical visits.

At G and G locations, patients are provided the materials and asked to list their most pressing concerns on the notepads before meeting with clinicians. "It’s a lot easier when patients come in with what they want to talk about, and it is written down," noted Mr. Gerald, adding the materials help "patients prioritize what they consider most important."

"The major impact it is having is that patients come in with an expectation and better sense of what is going to happen and how," concluded Mr. Gerald. "They have a clearer picture."

Impact Case Study Identifier: 
2015-34
AHRQ Product(s): Questions Are the Answer Public Service Campaign
Topics(s): Patient Safety, Quality, Health Literacy, Prevention and Care Management
Geographic Location: North Carolina
Implementer: G and G Healthcare P.C.
Date: 12/16/2015
Page last reviewed December 2015