Penn Medicine


Improving Patient/Provider Communication


A lot can happen between office visits. How can providers stay informed of what’s going on with their patients? 

Did they get those labs? Are they taking their medications?  Have symptoms improved or worsened? 

Leaving questions like these to be answered only when the patient is in front of the provider increases the time needed for in-person office visits and can negatively affect patient experience and outcomes.


In collaboration with the ambulatory gastroenterology team at the Clinical Practices of the University of Pennsylvania (CPUP), we launched a number of interventions targeting patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

The goal was to gain insight on how getting information to the provider before an in-person interaction might increase efficiency and proper care management between visits.

  • Intervention 1: “My Update” cards were distributed to patients in the waiting room.  The cards prompted patients to share information about the status of their health and prioritize the topics they’d like to discuss during their visit. In the second iteration of this experiment, we added keywords and color coding to the cards to help providers access the information they needed more quickly.
  • Intervention 2: Forms were distributed to patients in the waiting room that prompted them to shade boxes corresponding to symptoms they had experienced since their last visit. Providers used the information provided on the form to guide their in-person discussions with patients.
  • Intervention 3: “My visit” forms were distributed to patients.  The forms prompted patients to record provider recommendations for managing care between visits during the in-person interaction.
  • Intervention 4: A text/email service was offered to patients through which they would receive reminders about their care and ways to track their symptoms between visits. 


Although patients and physicians were engaged in the process, our team did not observe any measurable change to clinic visits. 

We did however learn that patients were more interested in the creation of and access to tools that would remind them of tasks related to their care plan after their in-person visits with providers.

Based on this insight, we recommended the team push reminders for important labs, prescription refills etc. to patients through their preferred modality (phone call, email, text etc.), and allow them to indicate when tasks had been completed.


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