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How This Pain Location Chart Improves Practice Processes

Author: Ravi Kalidindi
An older woman holds her back in pain while filling out a pain location chart on her laptop before her doctor’s appointment.

Patients know the pain they’re experiencing, but it’s challenging for them to accurately communicate that pain to medical staff before appointments.

Even if a patient describes their chief complaint in more than basic terms on their intake form, it’s still just words — and words can be subjective, vague, and misleading.

The problem is that this description is the only information the provider has to go on until the patient comes in for their appointment — which means the provider can’t properly prepare ahead of time.

How Miscommunication About Pain Affects Healthcare Organizations

Physicians and medical staff need as much information as possible before a patient arrives in order to 1) treat them effectively, and 2) maintain efficient operations.

For both purposes, it’s helpful to avoid starting from scratch at the time of the appointment. Unfortunately, starting from scratch is common where pain is involved simply because we didn’t have the right tools to facilitate better communication.

Today, that can change with the use of a well-designed pain location chart.

Quote: How This Pain Location Chart Improves Practice Processes

How Does a Pain Location Chart Help to Solve This Problem?

Instead of a fill-in-the-blank form to describe their chief complaint, a pain location chart allows patients to visually identify the location, nature, and severity of the pain with greater objectivity and accuracy.

Essentially, a pain location chart is a visual of the human body that allows patients to select the exact location of their problem. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words!

This tool isn’t meant to replace descriptions from the patient. Instead, it provides an additional tool to help them accurately articulate the pain they’re experiencing. Medical staff then have a much better understanding of the chief complaint and can prepare accordingly.

Overall, a relatively minor change like implementing a pain location chart can significantly improve the patient intake process.

Simple Interact offers pain location charts as a part of our digital patient intake forms. The charts offer patients the ability to clearly communicate all of the following:

  • Pain Location — Where, precisely, is the pain located on the body?
  • Pain Type — Does the affected body part feel numb? Achy? Do you feel a “pins and needles” sensation?
  • Pain Frequency — Is the pain continuous? Intermittent? Is it positional or onset by certain circumstances? 
  • Pain Severity — How severe is the pain on a scale of 1–10?

How Does Simple Interact Use Pain Location Charts?

Imagine a patient makes an appointment with a neurosurgeon for back and neck pain. They receive a pain location chart along with their intake forms for their appointment. They can click on the exact location of the pain in their back and neck on a diagram of the human body, and they can describe the pain type, frequency, and severity using helpful prompts.

The neurosurgeon then has a clear picture of the patient’s two chief complaints and can consider both before the patient ever arrives for their appointment. This allows for better, more comprehensive, and faster treatment.

Infographic: How This Pain Location Chart Improves Practice Processes
Infographic: How This Pain Location Chart Improves Practice Processes

What Are the Benefits of Using Pain Location Charts?

Pain location charts are beneficial for both providers and patients.

A pain location chart offers providers the preliminary information they need to more effectively prepare for patients. It means they don’t have to start from scratch when each patient arrives at the office. It also helps patients and providers alike avoid the frustration of miscommunication, and affords patients a better opportunity to “feel heard” by their provider.

Simple Interact offers pain location charts in our patient intake forms. To request a demo of our front-office automation solutions, including intake forms, please contact us.

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