By Stericycle Staff | Oct. 22, 2014

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Hospitals Prove Commitment to Patient Engagement with Meaningful Use Investments

According to a 2013 article in U.S. News & World Report’s Hospital of Tomorrow forum special report, hospital executives are taking the idea of patient engagement seriously. If money talks, hospitals’ significant capital expenditures on information systems that boost patients’ engagement in their own care is speaking volumes about how much hospitals are actually starting to treat patients as consumers.

Think about today’s typical consumer of just about any product or service. He or she has unprecedented access to buying information, thanks to the public availability of the Internet and the growth of self-service.

The U.S. News and World Report article points out that, as you might expect, the shift toward a patient engagement emphasis has been driven by healthcare reform, i.e., the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). As part of the second stage of the ‘meaningful use’ of electronic health records (EHR) requirement, health care providers must convince at least 5 percent of their patients to communicate electronically about their care. The article provides a couple of examples of hospitals’ response to this requirement.

The U.S. News Hospital of Tomorrow Forum featured two New York City providers who discussed how they are adapting to the requirement.

Patient portal facilitates engagement

New York-Presbyterian Hospital offers its patients access to their own records and other online services through a patient portal called MyNYP. Via the portal, they can see discharge summaries and instructions, make follow-up appointments, pay bills, send secure messages to their doctors and even search for clinical trials for which they might be eligible. In October 2013 alone, nearly 1,700 people signed up.

Despite this interest level, management has identified a couple of barriers to wider adoption, according to the article. First, many patients expect that doctors will provide them with the medical records they need, despite the fact that doctors work for a practice and not the hospital. Second, some patients are afraid they’ll lose the human touch; not all have embraced health care self-service as many consumers have when choosing seats on a plane, for example.

Data-driven readmissions reduction

The Visiting Nurse Service of New York, which cares for patients in their homes and other community settings following discharge from the hospital, has been working with New York-Presbyterian and an insurer to prevent high-risk patients from losing engagement in their care during transitions in care due to sloppy patient hand-offs. The VNSNY reduced 30-day hospital readmissions for all causes by more than 50 percent among patients enrolled in a program utilizing multidisciplinary care teams and deep dives into patient data to identify predictors of readmissions.

The program’s key success factors include:

  • Interfacing the program with scheduling systems at primary care physician offices so patients get follow-up care within seven days of discharge
  • Tracking of eight metrics in a patient’s EHR, including high fall risks; when the metric threshold is exceeded, a patient- and family-centric program for preventing falls is triggered

Additional initiatives are underway within the program:

  • Identifying patients with behavioral or mental health issues by reviewing their EHR data
  • Collaboration with hospital partners on a ‘shave a day’ program that identifies patients who would be better off at home than in the hospital; stays among many patients who have received total knee and hip replacements have been reduced by a day or more
  • The use of telehealth
  • Communicating with younger patients such as pregnant women and new mothers via text; this has also helped boost medication adherence for HIV/AIDS patients

On the clinical side, tracking EHR data like this can be a key component in evidence based care, too.

More solutions are available

We offer plenty of solutions that help health care providers foster patient engagement, too.

If you decide to launch a patient portal like New York-Presbyterian Hospital’s, our Patient Portal Services can support such an initiative and your Meaningful Use initiatives. Our compassionate Customer Experience Agents can provide callers with Level 1 technical support, such as:

  • Password reset
  • Basic site navigation
  • Updating account information
  • Account lockout/unlock

Our Post-Discharge Services can help you go a long way toward maintaining engagement among patients who have been discharged from the hospital. These services can provide several benefits in this regard, including:

  • Determine discharge instruction compliance
  • Provide clinical escalations for patients needing immediate service recovery or attention
  • Track patient-physician follow-up appointment compliance and compare with care plan recommendations

Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you to grow patient engagement in their own care via these solutions.

Author: Stericycle Staff

Stericycle has been delivering communication services to North American companies for over 25 years. Since 2011, we’ve been blogging about how to deliver best-in-class communications to patients and consumers – providing practical advice and current best practices for both healthcare and commercial organizations. We hope you enjoy and keep reading!
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