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Reduce Readmissions by Activating Patients to Do 'Self-Care'

Tinker Ready, April 10, 2014

At the Mayo Clinic's cardiac surgery program, doctors are putting tools to improve self-care right into patients' hands in the form of iPads. David J. Cook, MD, is an anesthesiologist and intensivist at Mayo. He says it was very clear to his team that patients need to be involved in their own care in a meaningful way to ensure a smooth recovery.

"The only way we can get patient to participate in their recovery is to make them well informed," he said.

But he describes traditional patient education programs as "unwieldy or ineffective," and cites as an example the 285-page booklet and two DVDs Mayo patients traditionally get before cardiac surgery. Under Cook's program, surgery patients get a slim computer tablet loaded with a personalized care plan. It includes clinical milestones, educational videos and a "to do" list.

For example, he says, the care plan will tell a patient that a bladder catheter is going to come out the day after surgery "So if it gets to be late in the day and it hasn't happened, the patient or spouse or family members can say, 'Our expectation was the bladder catheter was coming out. Why hasn't it come out?' These kinds of conversations are critical, Cook says.

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