Inter-physician Communication in Pediatric Orthopaedics: What do Pediatricians Want to Hear From us?

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Journal of Pediatric Orthopedics


BACKGROUND: Pediatric orthopaedic surgeons often communicate with general pediatric providers to facilitate patient care, but little data exist on communication preferences. This study investigates pediatric provider preferences regarding when they would like to receive patient updates from pediatric orthopedists, which communication modalities they prefer, and what information they like to receive. METHODS: We developed a 19-question e-mail survey to evaluate provider preferences on communication modality, timing, frequency, and what data they deem important as it relates to musculoskeletal patient care. RESULTS: A total of 111 general pediatric providers in our geographical region completed the survey. Among the providers, 55.9% preferred fax, 40.5% electronic health record inbox message, 19.8% e-mail, 12.6% mail, and 7.2% call/voicemail. The majority (67.9%) preferred information in a traditional note format, whereas 24.8% preferred a summary in paragraph format. Patient diagnosis and treatment plan for shared patients were the most important pieces of information for general pediatric providers to receive from pediatric orthopedists. Of various patient-specific scenarios included in the survey, referrals for osteomyelitis concern, fractures requiring surgery, scoliosis concern, and developmental dysplasia of the hip requiring treatment were considered most important for pediatric orthopedists to send updates. In terms of frequency of communication, over half of the pediatric providers (59.5%) desired updates after the first visit and after care plan changes (50.5%). CONCLUSION: Only 43.5% of pediatric providers feel like current communication with pediatric orthopaedic surgeons is "always" or "often" adequate. Most of our surveyed providers preferred occasional SOAP notes through fax as communication from pediatric orthopaedic surgeons. The communication deemed most important to providers related to referrals where the provider makes the initial diagnosis and then refers the patient to orthopaedics for a condition with potential long-term patient impacts. Finally, providers felt communication was most important after the first pediatric orthopaedic office visit. EVIDENCE: Level III, survey based.

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