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Seven strategies ACOs use for better patient outcomes and lower costs

According to recent studies, it is expected that Medicare’s projected spending will be well over $1.5 trillion by the year 2028- that is more than double what the value was just two years ago! All Medicare asks from ACOs are better patient outcomes.

doctor treating patient for better patient outcomes

Many ACOs have already reduced costs and thus saved Medicare approximately $1 billion during 2013-2015. Not only did they reduce costs, but they also improved quality across the majority of the metrics required by Medicare. These exemplary ACOs depended on primary care visits, which they used to reduce ER visits and in turn, cut costs by around $700 per patient. 

Some of the strategies which ACOs can follow to improve their healthcare spending patterns and generate better patient outcomes are: 

Collaborate with the physicians they work with

ACOs highlighted the fact that one of the ways to enhance the quality of healthcare as well as reduce the costs was to work closely with the assigned physicians. They also stated that these physicians are usually ordering services like lab tests for the patients or referring to other specialists without keeping the costs in check, and may inadvertently end up incurring more costs than necessary. However, if the physicians and ACOs collaborated frequently, the former can make informed decisions regarding the costs which will be beneficial for both the patients as well as the ACOs by reducing costs while keeping quality in check. Other than that, the physicians have to be busy with administrative issues, which can be quite hectic for them, which causes them to focus more on these tedious tasks rather than focusing on the patients. ACOs can collaborate with the physicians regarding these issues, as well, to reduce the time spent on such matters and focus more on the patients instead.

Encourage the patients to take initiatives regarding their health

A common yet effective strategy used not only by ACOs but by any health system is to encourage their patients to take charge of their health and adopt a better, more active lifestyle. However, ACOs are reporting that this can be quite challenging, especially if there are multiple physicians which is common in ACOs. What ACOs can do is adopt the strategy used by conventional health systems- use patient engagement apps like CircleCare. It has all the necessary features required for active patient engagement. Patients can track not only their steps but also keep track of their blood pressure, blood glucose level, schedule medicine reminders, and so on. It helps patients to maintain even the most complex medication routines as well as encourages them to lead a healthier lifestyle. However, these are not the only features of such apps, as will be explored further down the line.

Seven strategies ACOs use for better patient outcomes and lower costs

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Emphasize on patients requiring extra care

Care coordinators are professionals who are entrusted to make sure that the patients requiring extra care receive it, especially when they are discharged along with their proper medication as well as necessary materials. Nearly all the ACOs utilize such personnel who even help schedule follow-ups. However, ACOs can also use CircleCare in this context for better care, since these apps help patients and these caregivers to stay connected and exchange health information easily, perhaps about minor complications and so on. 

Reduce ER visits and readmission rates

Most ACOs face the problems of ER (emergency room) visits which in turn generate hospital readmissions, many of which are preventable. However, it is notably more of a concern for ACOs since they are fined based on the readmission rates. One strategy ACOs can use is providing digital solutions to patients such as patient engagement apps like CircleCare. Since these apps push the patients to be physically active, these can create better patient outcomes- the more active the patient, the healthier they will be. Also, since these apps have two-way communication facilities, they can contact their physicians regarding any minor health issues and resolve them outside the ACO premises, thus, reducing ER visits.

Enhance patient identification and data sharing

Patient identification is one of the major problems of the US healthcare system, and it is a massive concern for ACOs as well- they need to share patient data among themselves, and the data needs to be as immaculate and consistent as possible. Thus, ACOs can overcome the issues with conventional EHRs by using biometric patient identification solutions like RightPatient. It uses iris scanning to accurately identify the patients and match them with their appropriate records within seconds. This will improve the match rates as well as enhance the patient experience along with data sharing, which are all must-have features for any ACO as these lead to better patient outcomes.

Make sure medication adherence among patients is present

According to statistics, two-thirds of the prescribed patients are non-adherent regarding their medications. This generates 50% of treatment failures, causing up to 125,000 preventable deaths per year in the US. These could have been prevented if the patients were adherent to their medications, and for that, CircleCare is the perfect solution. Its medicine reminder makes medication adherence as easy as it gets- the patients using the app can set the type, color, look, frequency, dosage, starting/ending date, and duration through an intuitive yet simple interface. Even the most complex regimens become manageable due to CircleCare, ensuring medication adherence and thus fewer ER visits for ACOs.

Ensure patient education is provided

Patient education is another problem which generates frequent ER visits as well as hospital readmissions. Most patients have minimal knowledge regarding their health- 50% of them experience difficulty in understanding as well as using health information and 40% of them do not remember most of the information in the first place. CircleCare provides meaningful and easy to understand information for patients, customized according to their health conditions so that they can receive the latest knowledge regarding their health and make informed decisions if required. Moreover, it also provides general health tips regarding food and physical activities, which can help patients follow those tips for a better lifestyle and better patient outcomes.

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. 

Strategies which help ACOs to improve patient outcomes
Strategies which help ACOs to improve patient outcomes

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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. 

Patient engagement apps are reducing hospital readmission rates

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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.

Patient engagement is the key to improved patient outcomes

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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.

Can hospitals achieve better patient outcomes through patient engagement tools?

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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 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.

Process Improvement Methodologies are used for Patient Experience Improvement

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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.

doctor actively participating in patient engagement for reducing hospital readmission

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.
  • Patient Engagement and Patient Experience help reducing hospital readmissions

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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.

Patient experience and patient engagement: Is there any difference?

Patient Retention App

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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.

Ways in which patient engagement strategies prevent hospital readmission

Patient Retention App

Retain patients, improve wellness, and keep your brand connected

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.

data centers in healthcare

Technology In The Medical Field: How Data Centers Have Transformed The Industry

data centers in healthcare

The advent of data centers has helped the healthcare industry connect with the rapid rise in digitization. Photo courtesy of pexels.com)

The following guest post was submitted by Kara Masterson.

While hospitals and health care centers once used paper records only, today’s clinics and hospitals use almost entirely electronic health records, including digital scans, online drug records and web-based diagnostics. All of these technologies are hidden in the data center, which is typically a large building on or away from the campus. These data centers have certainly changed the face of health care.

They Allow for Seamless Patient Records

Data centers make it much easier for clinics and hospitals center to share patient records. For example, someone who has completed a medical technologist online program and who is studying blood samples in one part of the country can upload test results to a doctor across the country, and the doctor can then store the results in the data center.

They Speed Up Health Care

Because patient data is kept in one centralized area, health care can be sped up from the moment one steps in the emergency room until he or she is discharged. Doctors no longer have to wait to treat a patient until they receive and look through a lengthy patient chart. In addition, doctors who are at home can view how their patients are doing via records and results on data centers.

They Improve Patient Outcomes

According to healthit.gov, electronic health records significantly improve patient outcomes in numerous ways. They keep new doctors from prescribing medications that would interact with other prescriptions. They keep a close eye on patient allergies, and they automatically bring up warnings for doctors to see on certain patient diagnoses. This is particularly important in the emergency room setting.

They Help with Mobile Health

According to Exscribe doctors are increasingly taking advantage of data centers and electronic health records to communicate with and even treat their patients using mobile technology. They can communicate via health records and check test results online. This is particularly important for doctors practicing in remote and rural settings.

Data centers have taken all of the information that doctors, nurses and other health care workers used to have to dig for and have put it at their fingertips. With a few keystrokes and clicks, clinicians can know a patient’s health history, find out if there are any potential drug interactions, regulate a pacemaker and diagnose a patient who is miles away from them. Certainly in the next decade or two, even more tremendous changes will come to the health industry thanks to impressive data centers.

About the author: Kara Masterson is a freelance writer from West Jordan, Utah. She graduated from the University of Utah and enjoys writing and spending time with her dog, Max.