Patients Set the Agenda for Appointments at Harborview Medical Center

79% of patients say creating visit agendas in Epic improved communication with their physician

Many patients prepare for appointments by jotting down some questions to ask or running through a mental checklist of topics to discuss. At Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, part of UW Medicine, 112 patients in a study had the opportunity to go a step further and add these questions and topics directly to their own medical records in Epic.

During check-in, patients typed a visit agenda like this in their providers’ progress notes:

  1. Lumps on my lungs
  2. My ankle is not getting better
  3. The boot is giving me knee problems

Providers reviewed patient agendas before each visit so they could consider the topics in advance and more effectively engage patients.

“My patient typed ‘lumps on lungs.’ This was a pulmonary nodule identified on a CT scan in the ER that I might have missed if he had not put it on his agenda. While the nodule was incidental, the patient was anxious about the finding and I was able to provide reassurance,” said one physician.

Patients who participated said the agendas helped them feel heard during their visits. One patient called the agenda an “excellent way of getting my feelings across,” while another said it “gave [the] doctor my information so I wouldn’t be nervous and forget.”

Of the patients and providers who participated in the study:

  • 79% of patients and 74% of providers said the patient-driven agendas improved patient-clinician communication.
  • 72% of patients and 82% of providers said they want to use the agendas in the future.

Read the study, published in the Annals of Family Medicine, here.