Tag Archives: emergency room visits

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Patient Engagement Leads to Successful Outcomes

One clear way to dramatically improve health outcomes is to avoid unnecessary emergency department (ED) visits and hospital readmissions.  Beyond the HHS penalties, delivering the right care to the right patients makes for good sense and good healthcare.

Clinicians indicate that following surgery or a procedure, the initial five to seven days is the critical period during which most complications occur.  Difficulties or confusion during these transitions in care, as well as poor or non-existent follow-up communication can exacerbate the risks of avoidable clinical complications. 

Strong communication between clinicians and their patients is an essential prerequisite to attaining the best possible health care outcomes.  We recognize this deep truth and seek to facilitate exactly this type of clinician/patient communication.

In order to be most effective, such communication must be systematic, frequent and immediate. For this reason, Trusted Patient Coach (TPC) delivers detailed, customizable questionnaires to patients up to multiple times per day. These allow patients to self-report and communicate changes in symptoms and progress along care plans with immediacy, thus maximizing the accuracy of the collected data. In addition, this immediacy allows clinicians to see and take decisive action on adverse developments well before they otherwise could.  Thus, this strong communication forms the bedrock for actionable and timely clinical intervention that can reduce inefficient resource utilization such as unnecessary ED visits, which frequently lead to avoidable hospital readmissions.

Patient – Clinician Connection Reinforces Successful Patient Outcomes

But strong communication can be just a start. Strong communication can grow into a strong connection. And this connection can strengthen care outcomes even further.

We see overabundant evidence of these connections throughout the messages exchanged between TPC-using patients and their clinicians. Patients are thrilled to get their questions answered and their worries addressed. They react by deepening their rapport with their doctors and nurses, forming a higher level of engagement that is shown to produce better health outcomes (Hibbard, Greene, 2013). Patients forming these connections are among the most enthusiastic users of TPC.

In a recent TPC study involving 75 post-surgical patients, clinicians reported actively avoiding medically unnecessary ED and office visits for 11 of those patients.

One such patient, N.L., writes to his doctor,

“Thank you for messaging with me. I feel better knowing I’m on the right track and to expect good and bad days.”

Another, J.B., writes,

“Thank you for your support and advice. It’s nice to have doctors that are so involved.”

Patients N.L. and J.B. were both spared unnecessary ED visits after establishing a connection with their doctors through Health Helm’s Trusted Patient Coach mobile app.

Clinician/patient connection, driven by strong and immediate communication, can lead to reduced readmissions and to outstanding medical care.

 

Hibbard, J.H., Green, J.  (2013). What The Evidence Shows About Patient Activation: Better Health Outcomes And Care Experiences; Fewer Data on Costs.  Health Affairs, 32(2), 207-214.

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A Patient May Be Using EMR, But What About Post-Surgery or -Procedure Communication?

Patients are more savvy users and consumers of their medical records thanks to EMR systems. If the patient’s physician is connected to the network’s EMR system, the patient is solicited to register on the patient portal.

There are many advantages to doing this. The patient can reorder prescriptions, update her prescription list, see her latest lab results, check her next scheduled appointment, verify the insurance information on file, ask for a referral – all without having to call the office. Easy, convenient management of her static health records.

But what does the patient do after a procedure or surgery?

She goes home with discharge instructions. She follows them – sometimes. What happens when something doesn’t feel right a week into her recovery? She calls the office. She leaves a message on the nurse’s line. Three times. She then dials “0” to get the front desk. But she gets put on hold for 10 minutes.

Frustrated, she hangs up and sends a message to her primary physician via the patient portal. She thinks, “Ok. This can wait until tomorrow. Perhaps I’m overreacting.”

She goes online to find information. Nothing. Sleepless into the night with increasing pain and discomfort, she finally decides at 4am to go to the ED. The patient’s surgeon and office staff have no insight into this scenario whatsoever. And no control to do anything about it.

Preventing Readmissions with Trusted Patient Coach and Patient Reported Outcomes

Let’s rewrite that scenario.

The patient is discharged with discharge instructions. She downloads the Trusted Patient Coach™ mobile app recommended by her clinician onto her own mobile device – phone or tablet. She reports her symptoms immediately after getting home starting on day 1.

She follows her discharge instructions, which are reinforced by Trusted Patient Coach’s daily questionnaires and tasks. She reports her level of fever, pain, swelling and other common post-surgical indications of problems.

Her doctor now has real-time daily data to know that his patient is still experiencing fever and swelling after 7 days. The doctor messages – directly – to his patient: “Please send me a photo of what your incision looks like.” He doesn’t like what he sees and replies: “Please come into the office. Nurse John will be waiting for you this afternoon.” ED visit and potential readmission avoided.

This is a real scenario of preventing readmissions using real-time Patient Reported Outcomes.

  • It creates direct communication from patient to clinician.
  • It records recovery progress with daily, real-time reports directly from the patient.
  • It provides trending so that clinicians can spot potential issues.
  • It creates a better patient experience.
  • And it reduces costs by allowing the clinician to intervene before the ED visit.

Learn more about Trusted Patient Coach™ as an integral piece of your healthcare solution.