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The Stakes of Communication: How Clarus Glassboards Enhance Patient Communication

Clarus designs Healthboards to answer the changing communication needs of the healthcare industry. As hospitals adapt to the emergence of an increasingly consumer-driven market, communication takes on top priority in the strategic planning of healthcare services and budget goals. Drawing on concepts in media studies, this study situates the relevance of Clarus Healthboard design in relation to emergent changes in the nature and role of communication as a deliverable asset in hospital interactions. The high stakes of patient communication lend new relevance to the material design of the specific media employed in interactions between patients and caregivers.

Clarus Healthboards do not merely make communication of medical services easier or more efficient. Rather, Clarus Healthboards facilitate qualitative, value-driven improvements in communication that enhance the depth and affective impact of relationships between patients and providers.

Background: Healthcare Reform and Patient Experience

Current changes in the role of communication in hospitals have roots that reach as far back as the 1970s, when healthcare reform movements emerged to enact the first changes in the character and focus of medical service. Health advocacy groups drew increasing attention to the importance of patients’ rights and emotional needs in hospital settings. Over time, the healthcare industry has increasingly recognized the importance of what has now come to be known as patient satisfaction or “patient experience, “a term that refers to the full range of physical and interpersonal feelings patients associate with their time and care under the treatment of medical providers.

As a driver of hospital revenue, quality patient experience holds value equal to—or even in excess of—that attached to the quality of a hospital’s medical-treatment ratings. The emphasis on patient experience does not emerge as a top-down administrative mandate; rather, the concern with patient experience reflects hospital attempts to better respond to the expressed priorities of patients themselves. Jan Larson, President of Astute Doctor Education, situates the shift as the product of changes in how patients define the concept of quality care:

When you consider that the majority of patients measure quality based on how well they were treated in the hospital rather than the actual treatment’s success, it has never been more important for hospitals to develop a culture where quality measures such as interpersonal and communication skills, are deemed of equal importance to diagnostic, analytical and therapeutic skills.


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