continuity of patient care, interorganizational communication, patient discharge, patient referral



  1. Anderson, Mary Ann PhD, RN
  2. Helm, Lelia B. PhD, JD


Continuity of patient care is a tenet of professional nursing practice regardless of setting. Communication between providers about patients is fundamental to continuity. As the role of hospitals in health care is constrained, care is now commonly delivered to patients during an episode of illness by multiple agencies. Continuity of care now assumes full communication between providers about patients' conditions and needs. Research provides evidence about the dynamics of patient care communication: more lean (background and medical) than rich (nursing care and psychosocial) data are communicated; structured, written formats transmit more information than informal channels of communication; and organizational and patient characteristics would appear to affect communication about patients. Knowledge about the communication dynamics of patient care may assist providers in designing strategies to attain the basic goals of continuity of care.