improve patient outcome

Strategies which help ACOs to improve patient outcomes

The individual entities in any Accountable Care Organization (ACO) are always under the pressure to reduce their costs as well as strengthen their healthcare strategies to improve patient outcomes and maximize the benefits of being a part of the ACO. Thus, they are familiar with the fact that they need to develop strategies for accomplishing these targets- reduce costs, improve patient data sharing, care coordination, and improve patient outcomes as well, with an emphasis on post-discharge patients via reduced hospital readmission rates.

improve patient outcome

Take post-acute care networks as an example- north of 40% of Medicare patients receive post-acute care after they are discharged from the hospital, costing more than a whopping $60 billion back in 2015. Variation in post-acute care also caused Medicare spending variance by more than 73%- these variances were tied to healthcare costs, outcomes, and quality- the better the quality, the lower the costs, and vice versa.

If these standards are not satisfied, then the ACO receives penalties in the form of lower payments or fines. Thus, any given ACO needs to generate an exceptional patient experience via better healthcare, improving the coordination among the organizations regarding data sharing, reducing the readmission rates and minimizing the costs incurred. 

Here are some strategies which will help the ACOs to achieve these targets: 

Use biometrics for patient identification

Biometric patient identification systems are being used by over one hundred health systems and are reported to increase patient matching significantly- something which is sorely needed within the healthcare industry currently. In the case of ACOs, a single patient’s data is shared by all the systems within them, such as health systems, hospitals, physician groups, and insurers. Thus, interoperability is a must-have feature. EHRs are already known to cause identification errors and have unintuitive interfaces, inherently low patient match rates, and lack of interoperability, which is why health systems are using add-ons like RightPatient to accurately match the patient with his/her appropriate medical record. EHRs are supposed to cause physician burnouts as well, as they need to click through the interface thousands of times. Thus, adopting a solution like RightPatient will not only improve the match rates but also improve the patient experience as well as reduce physician burnouts, generating improved coordination. Patients only need to get their irises scanned to retrieve their accurate medical record for usage. Thus, faster matching creates better coordination and sharing of uniform and clean data among the organizations funded by Medicare. 

Ensure proper medication adherence 

One of the biggest problems for ACOs is ER (emergency room) visits, which generate hospital readmission rates- occurring due to the unhealthy population under their care. According to a study, two-thirds of the patients who are supposed to take medications are non-adherent; that is, they do not take their medications properly. This non-adherence creates around 50% of treatment failures among those patients and causes up to 125,000 deaths per year. The fact is that these deaths could have been prevented if the patients were adherent to their medications. All these generate up to an unbelievable $300 billion in costs. Apps like CircleCare have a feature which could have ensured medication adherence- Medicine Box- a medicine reminder where patients can easily set reminders for their medications.

 

Thus, even if the medication regimen is complex, CircleCare makes it easier than ever for the patients to take the right medicine at the right time.

Provide patient education

Another challenge for ACOs is that their patients are not adequately educated regarding their medical conditions. Research shows that over 50% of adult patients experience difficulty in using and understanding their health-related information, whereas around 40% forget most of the data. CircleCare provides health-related information which is customized according to the patient’s disease(s)- this helps to keep the patient up to date with the latest information regarding his/her medical condition so that informed decisions can be made. This ensures effective patient education, leading to better patient outcomes. Once an ACO registers with CircleCare’s service, all it needs to do is direct the patient to download it. Afterward, the patients can schedule their medicine, track steps, record blood glucose levels, record blood pressure, and communicate with their healthcare provider- all of which helps to improve patient outcomes, lower readmission rates, and reduced costs as well as higher quality healthcare. 

patient-engagement-app

Patient engagement apps are reducing hospital readmission rates

According to a recent study, patient engagement technologies like patient retention apps are more likely to lead towards better healthcare outcomes. Patients who used these apps contributed to reducing hospital readmission rates compared to those patients who did not use engagement apps.

patient-engagement-app-reduces-hospital-readmission-rates

Patient engagement technologies like CircleCare, a patient retention app, have shown that they aid patients having chronic diseases to visit their healthcare providers more prudently. Rather than going to the EDs (emergency departments of their hospitals and spending a significant amount of money which could be preventable, they used these patient engagement technologies to take care of themselves and also contact their physicians whenever required, regarding their health updates and asking for assistance directly within the app. The latter is much more desirable as it saves money from a preventable hospitalization and where the patients have tools provided by their healthcare providers, thus, reducing hospital readmission rates. 

According to the study, patients suffering from chronic conditions face some challenges getting a cohesive healthcare service- they need to go through several primary and supporting facilities for the full experience, thus are bombarded with different data points and care sites, which result in a disrupted and broken healthcare experience.

The research also showed that tools which provide the patients with facilities like access to their health information, tracking their activities, are helping to deliver superior quality healthcare and help the patients to stay on track regarding their post-discharge guidelines, all of which leads to only better patient outcomes.

Patient engagement tools and better patient outcomes are positively correlated- the more the use of these tools like CircleCare, the more active participation is seen from the patients, and thus, the better are the patient outcomes as hospital readmissions are fewer for these engaged patients. Even if the patients had multiple diseases, as long as they had access to the tools and were using them actively, the research showed these patients contributed to reducing hospital readmission rates. 

The research was carried out by grouping patients by their chronic conditions, hypertension, diabetes, asthma, and so on. As previously mentioned, patients with chronic or complicated cases who had access to patient engagement tools were readmitted fewer times compared to those who did not have access or did not use it. 

These results show that patients are becoming health conscious than ever and are opening up to useful patient engagement tools. It is a positive outcome overall, as the patients are choosing to pursue an active and healthy lifestyle and not resort to hospital readmissions, which can be expensive and inconvenient. The study also demonstrated that unless it is too severe, the patients choose to communicate with their physicians via the engagement tools instead of opting for readmissions or similar actions. This way, they can talk about any discomfort or situations they are facing and get instant advice, which helps them save a trip to the ED. Thus, patient engagement tools are taking healthcare out of hospitals and making it accessible via mobile devices, which is very much convenient for the patients themselves. 

So, what are these patient engagement tools that are pushing healthcare to better heights? One of the prime examples is CircleCare, a patient retention app which doubles as a patient engagement app. It has all the features of a perfect patient engagement tool. CircleCare can track steps, schedule medicines reminders, record glucose level, blood pressure, and also provide a community where the patients can engage with one another for exchanging health tips- a social media for patients. Moreover, it is also a means for patients to communicate with their healthcare providers; thus, they can contact them whenever necessary, without any hassle. Once a hospital registers to the service, they direct their patients to download the app to their smartphones/tablets and register as their patients, and that’s it! Patient engagement tools like CircleCare not only help the patients to communicate with their physicians but also help them lead and maintain a healthy and active lifestyle, which in turn generates improved patient outcomes and results in reducing hospital readmission rates, making it a must-have engagement tool.

improved-patient-outcomes

Patient engagement is the key to improved patient outcomes

Why might any healthcare provider contact their patients after their discharge? It’s simple- to encourage patient engagement so that the patients can be proactive and thus healthier, which in turn causes improved patient outcomes and lowers readmission rates, simultaneously reducing costs. 

improved-patient-outcomes

There’s a catch to this- if it’s so easy, why is effective patient engagement still out of reach for most healthcare providers? Let’s analyze.

A recent survey consisting of several healthcare systems sheds light on some interesting facts- 70% of the participants stated that less than half of their patients are involved in engagement activities, whereas a mere 9% said that they observe more than 75% effective patient engagement. 

Why are some successful and some unfortunate? It mostly reflects the fact that many are still confused by what patient engagement means. Many think that patient engagement refers to just giving a patient a scheduled time and making sure they know the patient’s name, and that’s all- but that is a far cry from what patient engagement entails.

Patient engagement refers to the healthcare provider learning about the patient’s interests, medical records, background, and anything relevant that is there to know about the patient as much as possible. What do the healthcare systems do with such data? They provide customizable tools to the patients which can be used for active patient engagement- to ensure improved patient outcomes and experience. There are many tools already available at the disposal of the healthcare providers to use for active patient engagement like CircleCare. Thus, patient engagement means providing a patient with tools and facilities which the patient can then use or participate in, if he/she chooses, to ensure better health and lead a healthier lifestyle, with its primary goal being improved patient outcomes and better patient retention rates.

Even large and reputed healthcare systems sometimes need the assistance of such tools for patient engagement, which is reflected in the survey’s findings. There are many examples that tell the same story repeatedly- a reputed healthcare system thinking that it was providing entirely satisfactory patient engagement until it started looking at the results and then teaming up with an external party who understands patient engagement better, and later on, the healthcare system actually seeing marked improvements because of using the new tools.

With the extensive knowledge and technical know-how of such third parties regarding patient engagement technologies, these healthcare providers saw that instead of using conventional facilities like patient portals, which can be clunky, unresponsive, and tedious to use, the patients used tools like apps which are available for both tablets and smartphones. The patients not only use it for better health and checking their records, but they also use it to communicate with their providers, exchanging crucial information, if required.

According to a healthcare official, patient engagement is very integral to their services, and they need it to ensure they have a healthy, mutually beneficial relationship with their patients. Such tools like CircleCare provide the window to ensure active engagement. Using CircleCare, patients can easily communicate with their doctors to let them know of any discomfort or updates in real-time. 

CircleCare is a patient retention app which doubles as a patient engagement app. It ensures maximum patient engagement, as it has features like tracking steps, recording blood glucose level, recording blood pressure, and also scheduling and reminding one about medicine. Not only that, it has all the features previously mentioned above, like communicating with physicians, exchanging information in real-time, and so on. Best of all, if the patient maintains an active, healthy lifestyle, which is shown as the patient completes “goals” and earns points within the app, they can also win exciting prizes which they can exchange with the coins. Once a healthcare provider subscribes to the app, they can direct the patient to download and use them for active patient engagement, ensuring lower patient readmission rates due to positive outcomes. 

physician-listening-to-patient

Can hospitals achieve better patient outcomes through patient engagement tools?

Let’s face it- no patient thinks about going home and logging into a web portal. It is ancient at this point. During a recent event focusing on all things related to healthcare improvement, that was the opinion shared by a respected healthcare official. The rest of the executives from different healthcare systems who were participating with him nodded in agreement. On the contrary, they laughed, because they are accepting the fact that patient portals are just not practical. Not only for this small group of officials but by now, it is common knowledge that such patient portals did not turn out to be one of the effective patient engagement tools as they were once hoped to be. Where did it go wrong? What’s next? If this didn’t push patient engagement, what kind of patient engagement tool will? These are the questions on the minds making up the healthcare system.

physician-listening-to-patient

During the event, the group sat down and had a lengthy discussion regarding healthcare and patient engagement tools, and the following are some of the critical things that were revealed.

Patient engagement is of utmost importance

This was stated by all of the executives present. Patient engagement is one of the top three organizational objectives for them. They also believe the fact that their organization’s value patient engagement as they see patients who are more participative to have better health outcomes than those who don’t, along with increased satisfaction, retention, and revenue.

Priorities are not reflected in the results

Another notable finding during this discussion was that there is a massive difference between the amount of importance healthcare systems place on patient engagement and the level of results they deem successful- they interpret 15% as a good number. One may then ask, how can such a vast difference between objectives and results be possible? One official from a healthcare system said that they need to be completely digital regarding everything being done in their hospital- from the moment the patient decides to use their services until the follow-ups are complete. Naturally, they require a patient portal which the healthcare providers have, and they observe approximately 15% of patient engagement through it, which they believe is more than an acceptable number.

Even though considering such a small number as success is very peculiar, it is not uncommon. The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology states that less than one-third of the patients who had access to portals used it only one or two times per year. The ones who did not use the portals had a variety of reasons- they wanted to speak with their healthcare providers directly, did not deem it necessary enough to view their records online, were worried about the safety and privacy of the portals, or could not use them due to various issues.

Not enough advancements in patient engagement tools

The healthcare officials who were present in the event think that the motivation for effective patient engagement needs to come from the patients themselves. However, as the findings specified already, it is not always in the hands of the patients themselves, but in the hands of the healthcare providers- the latter are the ones who develop the patient engagement tools, strategies, and technologies to support them. For instance, no matter how participative a patient is willing to be, he/she will not be able to effectively engage with the healthcare provider if the patient portal is complex, faulty, or inefficient. Another drawback the officials stated was the perception of patients regarding the portals’ contents and features- if they were inconsistent and irrelevant, patients would not use them.

 Another official added that even though patient engagement is a top priority for any healthcare system, the ones running them do not utilize the tools available to make better use of technology and come up with something more innovative and productive than patient portals. They do not invest in the necessary places and do not hire the people who can bring about a change to patient engagement tools.

Is patient engagement actually possible?

Yes, of course. Patient portals may be clunky, complicated, and the fact that people use their browsers less nowadays does not help the matter. No, the solution lies somewhere else. People are always on their phones using apps, and this is the key- a patient engagement app like CircleCare. The patients do not need to go to browsers and sign in; all they need to do is unlock their phones and tap on the app- they are in! CircleCare is an app which helps the patient stay fit- it can track their steps, schedule alerts for their medicine, and record their blood glucose level as well as their blood pressure, thus, helping them to stay proactive and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Not only that, but the app also connects the patients with their physicians so that they can communicate with each other whenever required- to share critical information, updates, tips, and additional information regarding their health can be exchanged. Once the hospital subscribes to the app, all the patients need to do is download it and use it, which will not only help them maintain a healthy lifestyle, but also ensure active patient engagement, and as a result, hospital readmission rates will go down due to better patient outcomes and active patient engagement.

patient engagement solutions motivate physicians

How patient engagement solutions benefit physicians

The number of patients who seek treatments for their ailments at retail clinics is continuously increasing. Also, mid-level staff and nurse practitioners are getting the chance to handle everyday clinical care. These may indicate that primary care physicians have lessened pressure, but the reality is entirely the opposite- they have to handle an unprecedented level of stress. So, where do patient engagement solutions fit in? Let’s analyze.

patient engagement solutions motivate physicians

These summaries were found after conducting a study. It included information from medical bills as well as relevant EHR data, where 4900 primary care practices were visited by 5 million patients 40 million times. This study found primarily two things in its duration:

  • 6% increase in average work performed was witnessed during each visit
  • 10% increase in the average number of recorded diagnoses each visit

However, some may be skeptical and think that these numbers are inflated, saying the sample healthcare providers may have meddled with the recorded data due to requirements of Medicare rules and contracts which are risk-based. On the other hand, the more optimistic people feel that primary physicians are working harder per patient, and their reasoning is simple- these physicians are handling the more complex cases because the easier ones are being pushed out to others.

A healthcare official from a renowned hospital has stated the same- the patients with less severe cases, like a running nose, go to the nearest clinics, whereas the complicated cases have insurance and thus line up for primary physicians. The official explained that the patients they treat are the ones with complex health issues like diabetes, hypertension, and heart failure, as well as depression, and even if they come with a small problem, they need to keep these other complex diseases in mind while treating them. Thus, the more complex the situation and the condition, the more tests and consultations are required.

Usually, such pressure can cause burnout within the physicians, that too without the help of patient engagement solutions which may have eased their situations. Conversely, many feel that they actually enjoy those patients who need their care and this makes such stress worth it. Nevertheless, they do not enjoy switching from complex to uncomplicated patients repeatedly, as it disrupts their workflow.

Also, even if these primary physicians are not handling the more uncomplicated cases, they still need to review some of them and participate in the decision-making process. Thus, the primary care physicians have a lot on their plates, and all of this creates dissatisfaction, burnout, turnover, early retirement- all of which is undesirable by the healthcare industry.

What can be done to reduce this stress? To keep the physicians more involved and engaged with their patients, the healthcare systems can use patient engagement solutions like CircleCare. This app helps the physicians to be in contact with the more complex patients once they are discharged, and both parties can provide essential updates to each other. The physician can also offer advice for small ailments the patients face. On the other hand, the patients will be able to record their blood glucose level, blood pressure, track their steps, schedule medicine, and so on. These features will not only help the patients to maintain their health but also provide this data to the physicians whenever required without hassle, thus providing motivation to these hardworking physicians for achieving better patient outcomes. Once the hospital is registered with the service, the patient only needs to download the app, and he/she’s connected with the healthcare provider and the physician for engagement, which will help to keep them healthy, and thus increase the patient retention rate.

patient experience improvement causes satisfied patients

Process Improvement Methodologies are used for Patient Experience Improvement

Healthcare organizations are continually pursuing ways to improve their processes to enhance the patient experience they provide. However, the biggest problem is that they need to measure patient experience improvement, and there is no specific way to do so. The challenge is to gain access to timely and relevant data. Nevertheless, in spite of this roadblock, they have found another way to measure their success.

patient experience improvement causes satisfied patients

According to a survey, the participating healthcare systems have stated that the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) or similar CMS surveys are their most preferred tools to track the patient experience provided. These are followed by phone calls made before a patient’s discharge and assistance from third-parties, or non-CMS surveys.

These healthcare providers have also increased their use of social media monitoring because of their needs for accurate and timely patient experience data, which is why using these methodologies do not seem that surprising. The number of healthcare systems utilizing process improvement methodologies is higher than the ones who do not use it, and the former ones stated that HCAHPS or CMS surveys are their preferred way of both tracking and measuring their organization’s success or failure regarding the patient experience they provide.

Moreover, the number of respondents who said they use tracking and are using it for process improvement methodologies is higher compared to those respondents who do not, with in-house surveys being an exception. This shows the amount of emphasis placed on performance measurement by process improvement, which no doubt the respondents believe leads to patient experience improvement.

They may have used several process improvements, like enhancing the patient identification system, since patient identification is a recurring problem in most healthcare systems, as 8% of the medical records are duplicates on average. Some hospitals are utilizing biometric patient identification like RightPatient, which does enhance the whole process, as physicians can focus on more critical tasks rather than take time identifying the patients. All of this ultimately leads to the healthcare systems providing a personalized patient experience.

These healthcare systems are correct in placing their trust in process improvement methodologies, and the report reflects that. It is favorable for patients and healthcare providers alike, as 87% of the respondents stated that their organizations had experienced significant improvements in the HCAHPS scores or similar measurements, which is a clear indicator of the efforts they have made to enhance the patient experience in response to their previous scores.

The report’s breakdown is as follows: 13% of respondents have observed significant improvements, 44% have noticed moderate gains, and 30% have experienced minor improvements, while 5% saw no increase.

However, the results reveal another aspect- there is a positive correlation between patient experience improvement and the use of such process improvement methodologies. A large number of respondents (16%) have stated that they experienced significantly improved HCAHPS scores after using the methods compared to those who did not use them (6%). Likewise, moderate improvements were noticed by a large number of respondents (47%) who used the process improvement methodologies compared to those who did not (36%). Accordingly, the respondents who did not use such methods are far higher in number (10%) than those who used it (3%) and reported that they did not see any improvements.

How are the healthcare systems improving their patient experience significantly? Other than process improvements, they can also utilize technology to enhance the patient experience further. They can use apps like CircleCare. It is a patient retention app used by hospitals for active patient engagement. Once a hospital subscribes, they can instruct the patient to use it for various purposes like communication with the hospital, keeping track of their steps, recording their glucose levels, scheduling their medicine, and receiving valuable health tips within the app. All these activities not only help to improve patient engagement but also cause patient experience improvement, resulting in an increase in patient retention rates due to better patient outcomes.

patient engagement

Patient Engagement and Patient Experience help reducing hospital readmissions

Patient engagement refers to the concept of the patient’s behavior where he/she proactively participates with the healthcare provider, whereas patient experience is a concept which encompasses the range of interactions that patients have with the different tiers of the healthcare system such as interactions with doctors, nurses, and staff in hospitals, or basically the whole healthcare system. Some people use it interchangeably because both are linked together and are used towards achieving a common goal- reducing hospital readmissions.

patient engagement

Patient Engagement

Patient engagement is a concept which deals with patient activation, which is mostly empowering the patient so that the patient feels like they can take an informed decision about their healthcare to improve treatment outcome, lower costs, and also help provide more efficient patient care. This also rests in the hands of the healthcare system, as they are the ones who encourage patient engagement in the first place. There is also a framework for patient engagement, which is as follows:

  1. Shared Decision-Making Stage: In this stage, the patient is informed about his/her condition, and the patient participates in the decision-making process along with the healthcare provider. This approach is used mostly for patients whose situation is more preference sensitive.
  2. Patient Activation: In this stage, the patients are more aware and understand their situation as they know their condition. Research among 30,000 patients at Fairview health services in Minnesota suggests that patients with a lower level of understanding about their condition incurred 8% – 21% more costs in healthcare. Thus, this step of active involvement of the patient to treat their situation is the stage called patient activation. However, it does require the assistance of the healthcare systems, as they have accurate information regarding the patients.
  3. Broader Patient Engagement: This step is more about mass awareness creation and social interpretations of patient engagement. The concerned parties are to influence patient participation in such a way that it helps the masses; they try to educate the masses about their conditions so that they can make informed consensual decisions about their healthcare with respect to their healthcare providers.

Patient Experience

Patient experience refers to the number of interactions patients have with the healthcare system. It includes their care from health plans, and doctors, nurses, and staff in hospitals, physician practices, and other healthcare facilities. It is a core aspect of healthcare quality and is used to help measure a healthcare system’s ranking- the better the patient experience, the better the healthcare system, and vice versa. It also consists of components which patients value highly, like appointments, the hospital itself, the care they receive – basically everything associated with the healthcare provider. This is the basic concept of the patient experience. Healthcare providers use a combination of tools to enhance the patient experience. For example, to have an edge over other healthcare systems, many uses biometric patient identification like RightPatient, which matches the patient with their EHRs using iris scanning.

The link between Patient Engagement and Patient Experience

There are several factors which can interlink patient engagement and patient experience amongst them. A few are mentioned below:

  • Better patient engagement and experience lead to better patient satisfaction.
  • Better patient engagement and experience offer better value for patients’ money.
  • Better patient engagement leads directly to better patient experience.
  • Better follow up results in positive patient experience.
  • Patient engagement makes having a better patient experience more comfortable for the patient.
  • The liability of informed consent is divided between the patient and the caregiver, which affects the patient experience positively.
  • Better patient experience and better engagement go hand in hand in the financial aspects of the healthcare system as they help reducing hospital readmissions.

Effects on the hospital readmission rate

  • Better engagement and experience relate to better reputation buildup of the hospital, which affects readmission rates by reducing hospital readmissions.
  • Better engagement leads to more effective treatment, which reduces risk-standardized readmissions.
  • Better overall patient experience will result in the patient choosing the hospital over other hospitals in case of another condition of him/her or a family member.
  • Better engagement and experience lead to patient satisfaction, which results in a reduction of risk-based readmissions and increases reputation-based readmissions.
  • With better patient engagement, patients are acquainted with the treatment plans and procedures correctly, which results in lowering risk-based readmission as well.
  • Involvement of the hospital staff leads to better mental satisfaction in the patient as well, which results in better word of mouth reputation, and also leads to more effective treatment, which helps in reducing hospital readmissions.

Many healthcare providers are very successfully providing both positive patient experience and increased patient engagement. For enhanced patient experience, RightPatient is the choice of many for biometric patient identification, which speeds up the overall process, helping the hospital staff to save significant time identifying the incoming patients so that they can put resources to better use in critical tasks. Patient engagement has a lot of tools, as well. However, the recent trend is to use apps like CircleCare, a patient retention app with a lot of benefits for both the patients as well as the healthcare systems. It can track steps, provide reminders regarding medicine, record glucose levels, blood pressure, as well as help the patients communicate with their healthcare providers. After the hospital subscribes to the app, the patient only needs to download it and use it, not only to communicate with their physicians but also for better health, which will help with patient engagement as well as provide better patient outcomes by reducing hospital readmissions, creating a win-win situation for all.

Patient experience

Patient experience and patient engagement: Is there any difference?

There are quite some differences between engagement and experience. However, in the healthcare industry, the terms patient engagement and patient experience are sometimes used interchangeably due to which people believe that they are the same thing, confusing. To clear it up- patient experience and patient engagement are not the same things.Patient experience

In the healthcare industry, hospitals are assigning more resources than ever to improve the patient experience. Likewise, both technology and employees are being utilized to find out how patient engagement can be improved. Patient engagement has been becoming increasingly important because the patients are playing an active role as they use more smartwatches, keep track of their data like steps, blood pressure, and others.

However, what are the actual differences in patient experience and patient engagement? Let us find out.

Patient experience

Patient experience is the summation of all the experiences an individual has during his/her interactions with the healthcare system. It starts right from the phone call until the checkups. In between, there are more parts of the patient experience, like the visit to the hospital, the quality of the care provided by the hospital, billing experience, and can be many more varying on the situation. To sum it up, all these small interactions make up the entire patient experience. A key feature of patient experience is that the responsible party is the healthcare system and not the patient. Thus, it entirely depends on the healthcare provider whether the experience will be good or otherwise.

Patient engagement

On the other hand, patient engagement, as per its definition, consists of the steps an individual must take to acquire the maximum benefits from the available healthcare services. See the difference? It is quite clear from the definition itself. It puts the patients in charge of their healthcare. Various services are made available to the patient from the provider’s end. However, it is up to the patient whether he/she wants to avail those or not- the patient needs to act or engage with those services. For instance, CircleCare is a part of those healthcare services- it is an app through which the patient can participate in various engagement activities effectively.

In short, patient experience is the responsibility of the healthcare provider, whereas patient engagement is in the hands of the patients, provided that the services are made available by the hospitals. However, it is beneficial for both the patients and the healthcare provider if the patient engagement is increased, as it causes the patients to become more responsible and make the whole healthcare process easier for themselves and the providers.

One key patient engagement strategy for hospitals to use is patient retention apps. These apps help to keep the hospitals be in constant communication with the patients, making the recovery process more streamlined and help to retain them. CircleCare is such an app. It helps the patients keep records of their health data, track their steps, share updates, learn health tips, and share useful information within their circle. Once the hospital subscribes to CircleCare, the patient can download, register, and use right away- it is that easy! While engaging within the app, it helps the patients be proactive, live more healthily, and helps the hospitals by assisting them to retain the patients, creating a win-win situation for everyone involved.

how patient engagement reduces hospital readmission CircleCare

Ways in which patient engagement strategies prevent hospital readmission

how patient engagement reduces hospital readmissionOne of the main determinants of performance in the healthcare industry is reducing hospital readmission. In layman’s terms, it means that the lower the hospital readmission rate, the better the services are of the healthcare system. Many healthcare systems are trying their best to lower their readmission rates to save costs as well.

Hospital Readmission Reduction Program (HRRP) was introduced by CMS in 2010 to deal with reducing hospital readmission rates. It has been successful, as it has helped to reduce readmissions by 8 percent.

On the surface, it might sound good and relatively easy. However, reducing hospital readmissions can be quite a challenge as it depends on several factors. Other than providing first-class care to the patients, the healthcare systems must also ensure the patients engage in post-discharge care management so that their condition becomes better, not worse.

How do the healthcare systems do that exactly?

Highlighting high-risk patients

During the post-discharge period, there are a lot of probable patients who might suffer from a medical issue. After identifying them, the task is to focus the engagement efforts towards these high-risk individuals. To determine the high-risk patients, the clinician can start looking at the healthcare conditions, which cause the highest readmissions. For instance, pneumonia, which is not caused by STIs or tuberculosis, causes 88,800 readmissions.

Not only medical conditions, but there are also other factors which can cause readmissions. Patients may have limited knowledge regarding specific topics. They may have limited health literacy, limited language skills, others may receive different information from different officials in the same healthcare system, and others can even be omitted from post-discharge care.

Patients can also be at risk of readmission if they are facing particular social determinants of health (SDOH). For instance, transportation issues, job security, and similar issues may prevent the patient from following up with the clinicians, which in turn will cause adverse health effects and thus readmission. Likewise, low earners will not be able to afford home care following the discharge.

The healthcare systems need to create follow-up procedures based on the above situations. By engaging with both the patients and their families and keeping in mind the SDOH, hospitals not only can make their follow-up strategies better but also help reducing hospital readmission.

Another solution to all these problems can be CircleCare patient retention app. It can provide essential health tips to the patients, keep track of their steps, maintain their medicine schedules, and also be a medium of communication with the hospital. After the hospital subscribes to CircleCare, the patients only need to download the app to use these benefits, which can help reducing hospital readmission significantly.

Engaging both patients and their family members

In the recovery phase, it is best to involve and engage not only the patients themselves but also their family members. This will help as the family members are aware of the patient’s preferences and thus can make him/her feel more comfortable as well as follow the instructions of the hospitals. This helps reduce the readmission rate by 25 percent for 90-day readmissions and 24 percent for 180-day readmissions.

Also, it is an excellent strategy to provide the guidelines in writing during the patient’s discharge, as it gives a detailed description for the patient to follow post-discharge. Statistics support this, as patients who were not provided with any detailed guidelines had 24 percent more chance to be readmitted.

Acknowledgment of SDOH

No matter the strategies, some patients may not be able to comply with the post-discharge and follow-up guidelines, which may not even be there fault. The SDOH can act as a barrier to their betterment.

According to Health Services Research, if the SDOH were factored into the HRRP, 21.8 percent penalty reduction would take place.

SDOH is not considered in the HRRP. The hospitals can provide questionnaires to the patients or their family members to find out whether they face any of the SDOH or some other barrier while availing post-discharge healthcare and follow-ups.

CircleCare

As there are various problems which might be faced by the patients- SDOH, lack of written instructions, or others, the best possible solution would be to give them something which they can access according to their convenience. CircleCare can not only engage the patients, but also keep track of their information like blood glucose, blood pressure, and remind them of their medicine intake. It also provides the patients with health tips and rewards and can be used to provide detailed instructions post-discharge as well as share health updates with the hospitals. All this will not only help improve the health of the patients, but it will also be a platform where the patients can be more engaged with the hospital by sharing their health-related statistics so that the officials can provide proper feedback. This, in turn, will cause patient satisfaction to rise, and ultimately, patient retention will be achieved.

patient engagement in healthcare

5 Ways Technology Is Improving Doctor Patient Collaboration

patient engagement in healthcare

Is technology in healthcare playing an important role to improve patient engagement? Photo courtesy pf pixabay)

The following post on improving patient engagement in healthcare was submitted by Audrey Thorne.

Innovative technologies and groundbreaking discoveries have changed the face of the healthcare industry. Due to them, ailments that were previously life threatening are now easily cured, surgical procedures have become less invasive and self-help devices have given birth to an empowered and more health conscious society.

Moreover, in addition to enhancing the quality of patient-care, these technological advancements have also revolutionized physician-patient relationship – making it much more collaborative in nature.

Nowadays, we see doctors being able to keep a constant eye on their patients via tracking devices, patients being able to connect instantly to their physicians via video calling apps and both equally partaking in the healthcare process.

This serves to not only expand the reach of healthcare services but also makes patient-care much more pertinent and personalized. The tremendous utility of such technologies can be gauged from the fact that 52% of healthcare service providers utilize at least 3 connected health technologies to maintain contact with their patients. Here we take a look into how technology is improving doctor patient collaboration:

1. Engaging patients in the healthcare process:

The government is struggling to make optimum use of a limited amount of resources in order to provide healthcare services to a growing population. This disproportionate ratio of medical service providers to patients causes patients to endure long waiting times in healthcare settings and also inhibits physicians from spending sufficient time with patients to provide in depth consultation and monitoring.

Even in the coming decade, the Association of American Medical Colleges has projected a shortfall of physicians ranging from 61,700 to 94,700 causing healthcare providers to search for innovative ways to increase the reach as well as the scope of healthcare services.

It is due to these escalated efforts that we now have a number of devices and applications that facilitate round the clock correspondence between doctors and patients and also enable patients to become actively involved in the healthcare process.

These technologies include informative sources that give patients a greater understanding of the intricacies of their condition and possible courses of treatment and allow them to decide on a care plan in collaboration with their physician.

This in turn increases their ownership of their care plan as well as their determination to see it through.

Moreover, we also now have an array of reliable self assessment tools such as Brain Test to help detect the presence of ailments, in this case cognitive disorders, that not only serve to satisfy patient curiosity but also encourage them to seek timely medical assistance.

In addition to these, self-help apps like Fitbit allow patients to constantly monitor and improve their health. This is crucial since healthcare by nature is a two-way process where it is absolutely essential for both parties to play their part for a treatment to be effective.

Therefore, these technologies, albeit simple, have proven to be game-changers as they have allowed patients to play their part in ensuring their health and well-being.

2. Personalized services:

A decade ago, hospitals used to run on paper-based records with the staff having to go through stacks of files in order to learn about a patient’s medical history. Likewise, patients had to personally maintain their medical records and repeat their history to every doctor that they visited.

Both these factors caused healthcare services to be disease-specific whereby physicians would attempt to diagnose an ailment based on the information available and recommend treatments to resolve the underlying issue.

However, technology has shifted healthcare from being disease-specific to individual-specific as physicians are now able to use electronic medical records to provide tailored treatments to patients.

This has catapulted the quality of medi-care by allowing accurate diagnosis and treatment and has also deepened the relationship between doctors and patients. Doctors are now able to remain in touch with their patients throughout and even after the course of the treatment via online forums and applications such as Epocrates that facilitate doctor-patient dialogue.

Moreover, such apps also provide doctors with a more intricate understanding of patient condition and enhance the confidence that patients have in their healthcare provider.

They also help patients feel much more secure as they know that their physician is only a few clicks away. In addition to this, these technologies enable physicians to provide ongoing support to patients who are adjusting to new medications or have been requested to make significant lifestyle changes as part of their treatment.

3. Reduced waiting times:

People often delayed or avoided seeking medical consultation in the past because they were unable to take time out for a lengthy trip to the hospital.

However, this hesitation to endure a tedious hospital visit had serious long-term repercussions as it allowed ailments to worsen and increased the risk of hospital admissions. Thankfully, we now have bountiful apps that allow patients to gain instantaneous consultation from physicians via video calls.

Moreover, these apps have also improved correspondence between doctors and patients when it comes to arranging appointments. Patients can now receive timely reminders about upcoming appointments from their healthcare provider which consequently leads to fewer patient no-shows.

4. Improved marketing:

Hospitals use marketing channels such as emails, social media, instant messaging, etc to apprise patients about new cures and treatments in an attempt to increase the quality of patient-care and increase public awareness.

Previously, they had to send out mass emails and messages which at times would be thought of as irrelevant and spam by patients. This correspondence, however, has improved drastically over the past few years, as hospitals are now able to send out communications to specific patients with specific needs.

5. Focus on prevention rather than cure:

With social media platforms, blogs and websites, physicians are able to disseminate a huge amount of information about disease prevention and cure and are able to respond to general queries by patients.

This ready availability of information and informal access to medical consultation has shifted the focus of patients from curing ailments to avoiding them in the first place.

By doing so, doctors are not only able to help save countless lives but are also able to relieve burden off of healthcare providers who strive to provide services to an ever increasing base of clients.

Technology has revolutionized doctor-patient dynamics, however, when we look at the rampant pace of technological developments it is safe to assume that this relationship will continue to evolve drastically in the years to come.

5 Ways Technology Is Improving Doctor Patient CollaborationAudrey Throne is a mother and a professional blogger by choice. She has completed her masters in English literature from university of Birmingham. As a blogger she wrote quite a few posts on health, technology as well as management. Currently, she is associated with heartfeltadopt Team.

Find her on Twitter: @audrey_throne.