As a result of the pandemic and increased consumerism, patients are more interested than ever in their healthcare.
Therefore health systems must become more attentive to patient satisfaction, an important aspect of value-based care.
Patient-centered tools such as care plan transparency, shared technology, and post-discharge communication are being implemented to meet consumer expectations and improve outcomes.
This article outlines research on patient engagement and improved outcomes, as well as three key strategies providers are implementing to deliver on these outcomes.
How patient engagement improves outcomes
Trending: Consumer interest in health
In recent years, consumers have taken a greater interest in their overall health, especially those with chronic illnesses. In a 2020 survey, 66% of respondents with chronic conditions were more interested in taking a proactive approach to health, and 56% were more interested in managing their underlying conditions than prior to the pandemic.1
Benefits to patients
Providers and payers are seeing the benefits that greater involvement can have on patient satisfaction and outcomes.
Recent studies support this connection with the following conclusions:
- Patients with a lower degree of involvement, are more likely to experience “major medication errors, emergency department visits, and/or unplanned readmission”.2
- Inpatients who are less satisfied with their care are more likely to readmit within 30 days.3
Benefits to providers
Research also reveals that patient involvement lowers total cost of care:
- Patients with the lowest engagement rates showed total costs of care that were 21% higher in the following year than those of patients with high engagement scores.4
- Patient satisfaction is linked to greater market share, fewer malpractice claims and higher reimbursement rates.5
These studies reveal the benefits to patients, providers, and payers of increasing engagement and satisfaction.
3 Key Patient Engagement Strategies
Patient inclusion in care discussions
In traditional interdisciplinary care teams, physicians and caregivers coordinate treatment which improves efficiency, transparency, and quality of care.
When providers establish practices for patients to also participate in these conversations, coordinated care becomes even more effective. Patients involved in care decisions have:
- More realistic expectations of side effects or recovery time
- Less treatment anxiety
- Greater adherence to treatment plans
These benefits all contribute to greater patient satisfaction and improved outcomes, thereby reducing total cost of care.6
Technologies that help patients, families, and caregivers communicate and track progress also enhance patient-centeredness.
Studies show that:
- Informed, engaged patients are likely to be more confident regarding their care and rehabilitation and to be satisfied with their overall experience and outcomes.7
- Strong patient and family engagement in clinical care contributes to a favorable experience, as well as improved outcomes and reduced costs.8
Technologies that can bridge gaps are critical to patient satisfaction and recovery.
Patient-centeredness does not end with discharge, however. Research reveals that:
- Patients that were hospitalized with acute conditions are less likely to readmit if they are contacted as part of an early follow-up program.9
- In patients with three or more chronic conditions, 20% of readmissions are likely to be prevented if they are contacted by a provider of care within 14 days of discharge.10
- There is no significant difference in satisfaction between nurse-led telephone follow-ups and outpatient visits, suggesting that telephonic programs are effective patient engagement tools.11,12
Implementing follow-up services not only improves patient satisfaction but can also reduce rehospitalizations.
How Kindred Hospitals is applying patient engagement strategies
Interdisciplinary Care Teams
Kindred Hospitals’ interdisciplinary care teams of physicians, nurses, and rehabilitation therapists collaborate on treatment plans. As part of their advanced care delivery model, Kindred’s interdisciplinary care teams moved their daily meetings from the conference room to the bedside, thereby increasing transparency and patient and family inclusion.
With the proprietary app, RehabTracker®, Kindred Hospitals are transforming the way caregivers engage with patients and their families. The HIPAA-compliant app ensures that the patient, clinical team and family both near and far are informed on progress and milestones.
RehabTracker is built with unique functionality to serve medically complex and critically ill patients. It can be used to monitor range of motion exercises and time spent sitting at the edge of the bed. It can also track important aspects of respiratory therapy such as unassisted breathing and oxygen intake and saturation.
The Kindred AfterCare program supports patients post-discharge. Registered nurses contact patients at regular intervals after discharge to discuss durable medical equipment, medications, PCP appointments, and any other needs. This program improves patient outcomes and satisfaction, and reduces readmissions.
Visit kindredmanagedcare.com to request a conversation about how Kindred Hospital’s level of service can help manage your critically complex patients.
- Advisory Board Covid-19 Consumer Survey, June 2020. https://advisory-prod.azureedge.net/-/media/project/advisoryboard/shared/research/mic/resources/2020/impact-of-covid-on-site-of-care-and-comms_consumer-survey-results.pdf?rev=471d77d6ebf4426e8b7bb179235aa253&hash=F7675411F86C8D98E35333B14584BB82
Dr. Sean Muldoon, SVP, CMO for Kindred Hospitals, oversees clinical care oversight, medical staff affairs, and strategic relationships.