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Daily Engagement Is a Matter of Patient Safety

November 15, 2017 written by Todd Johnson
Daily Engagement Is a Matter of Patient Safety

As the CEO of HealthLoop, I feel rewarded when I hear that hospitals using our solution are increasing market share, cutting costs, and putting valuable information into the hands of care teams and patients.

As more healthcare providers opt to engage with their patients using HealthLoop, I have more than a few reasons to be happy when I start each day.

But there’s a different kind of satisfaction that comes with knowing that our patient engagement solution is saving lives.

We offer the right information to the right patients at the right time, and we are seeing a growing number of well-informed patients making decisions that prevent adverse and even potentially fatal events.

For this reason, it’s time for providers to regard daily dialogue with patients as an important safety measure, not just as a useful tool.

  

“HealthLoop Saved my Life” 

Health First, Central Florida’s only fully integrated health system, implemented HealthLoop just over two years ago because the organization wanted to tighten up acute health episode management and drive an outstanding experience for their patients once they left the hospital. 

Erik Nason, Practice Manager for Orthopedics and Pain Management at Health First, told us the institution’s leadership was pleased with the ease of implementation and the daily flow of information between care teams and patients.

But then a patient recovering from a total knee replacement showed the real potential for daily engagement.

“He shook my hand, and he told me HealthLoop saved his life,” Nason said.

 

The Right Information at the Right Time

Well before this patient underwent knee surgery, his care team used HealthLoop to make sure he received educational information about the procedure and about complications that can arise during the recovery period.

Although the patient describes himself as a “tough guy” who doesn’t enjoy leaning on others for help, he did read and remember this information as the day of his procedure drew closer.

As he recovered from his knee replacement, he experienced pressure in his calf, which soon turned into pain, cramping, and difficulty walking.  

He couldn’t stop thinking about symptoms that were described in the information he received from his care team via HealthLoop. This information stuck in his mind, he later told his physician.

  

The Call That Saved the Patient’s Life

When the patient’s calf pain worsened, he double-checked the information he had received and found his symptoms matched the description of a deep vein thrombosis (DVT) which if not treated can result in a pulmonary embolism (PE), an often fatal condition. It was time for this tough, self-reliant man to call 9-1-1, which is what he did.

The physicians who attended to this patient diagnosed him with bilateral PE and told him that call saved his life. PE can be deadly if is large enough to stop blood from flowing properly into one or both lungs, which was the case with this patient.

The man thanked his physicians and hospital administrators for using HealthLoop, and said that without it he would have most likely lacked the information that saved his life.

According to Nason, “This is the epitome of what HealthLoop is about, managing acute episodes of care.”

 

Patient Engagement is More Than Useful

If this was an isolated incident we could put it down to serendipity or good luck. But this patient’s avoidance of a life-saving by receiving the right information at the right time is not an isolated incident. This is something we see at HealthLoop frequently and we are seeing more examples all the time.

Administrators implement patient engagement solutions for a variety of reasons. It helps them avoid government penalties by reducing the rate of hospital readmissions. It cuts down the number of unnecessary follow-up visits with patients, which presents additional revenue opportunities by opening time slots for new patients.

Daily engagement also helps providers better understand the social factors that play a role in their patients’ health and helps them better manage the health of large populations of patients.

But the daily dialogue between providers and patients—comprised as it is of valuable information flowing back and forth—does much more. It helps prevent adverse events that far too often claim patients’ lives.

 

Time to Change the Perception

Daily engagement is a matter of patient safety. Plain and simple. Without an automated system for daily check-ins, care teams are far too busy to touch base regularly with patients once they are discharged from the hospital. 

Far too many patients try to convince themselves that their symptoms are nothing to worry about and that they should not be “bothering” their physicians with questions.

Without a system that easily enables the flow of information back and forth between providers and patients far too many complications will arise. Too many of these complications could be life-threatening or fatal.

Patient engagement is a safety issue and examples of this are going to continue to accumulate.

 

Patients will Demand Engagement

Here at HealthLoop, we see many examples of daily engagement detecting complications early and preventing worsening outcomes. As this continues, stories like these will travel well beyond companies like ours, and will be told increasingly often on review sites and in other public venues.

Administrators of hospitals and health systems should be able to see this coming, and should implement systems that facilitate daily dialogue with patients the way Erik Nason did.  

If they do not embrace systems like these now, they will have to play catch-up later.

Before selecting a provider, well-informed patients are going to want to know that the provider pursues every possible avenue to ensure good health outcomes. Among the boxes that patients will want to check off is daily engagement with their care team.

Patient engagement is a matter of patient safety. Hospitals and health systems can get ahead of this by implementing solutions like these before patients require it, or they can do so later, in response to the demands of their patients.

 

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