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Hospitals and Health Networks See a Return on Investment in Patient Engagement

November 01, 2017 written by Vicki Wickline

 

Some healthcare providers are still deciding whether they want to implement an automated patient engagement solution, but a growing number of hospitals and health systems are moving forward with it. When they do, they quickly find that daily engagement builds patient loyalty and increases referrals.

They also see a return on the investment in patient engagement in the form of reduced readmission and complication rates, reduced call-center volume, better online ratings for physicians, and far higher Patient Reported Outcome Measures (PROMs) survey collection rates.

As the Senior Director of Partnerships at HealthLoop, I work closely with the healthcare systems that implement our patient engagement solution and help them scale the use of HealthLoop throughout their organizations.

Here are a few examples of the clear benefits experienced by some of HealthLoop’s partners.

 

Reduced Call Center Volume 

Call centers at hospitals and health systems are always busy with incoming questions from patients about their health and their recovery from medical procedures. Physicians are often the ones who spend hours returning calls after long days of delivering care.

Physicians using HealthLoop have found that most patient inquiries can be handled by front-line staff, which takes the pressure off them. But in many other cases—because daily engagement involves getting the right information to the right patient at the right time—patients decide that they don’t need to place the call at all.

The call volume in the orthopedics department at LifeBridge Health’s Sinai Hospital, which uses HealthLoop, dropped by 50 percent over a one year period from July 2016 to July 2017.

Health First Medical Group implemented HealthLoop just over two years ago because the organization wanted to tighten up acute health episode management. They noted the same dramatic reduction in call volume freed up their physicians to spend more time at the bedsides of surgical patients.

 

Reduced Readmissions and Complications

Daily patient engagement with an automated system has been shown to reduce hospital readmissions by 38 percent and medical complications by 33 percent.

Since every provider is under pressure to reduce the number of avoidable return trips to the hospital, this is a return on investment that speaks for itself. Reducing complications following medical procedures is another powerful incentive to adopt patient engagement solutions.

Health First was using HealthLoop when they recommended that a certain patient undergo total knee replacement. Well before the procedure, his care team began sending him information about the procedure, and about common complications that can occur during recovery.

As the patient recovered, he experienced symptoms that he had learned about in HealthLoop, and realized he was experiencing deep vein thrombosis (DVT), which can result in pulmonary embolism (PE), an often fatal condition. He called an ambulance, and paramedics told him that the call saved his life.

He later told a Health First administrator that without HealthLoop he would have most likely lacked the information that saved his life.

 

Better Online Ratings for Physicians

Positive online reviews from patients make a healthcare organization look good, but they do far more than that. When rated on a five-star system, every additional star that a physician receives translates into an 11 percent jump in referrals to that physician.

We have found that among patients who are engaged daily by their care teams, 67 percent say they are willing to share their positive experiences on online review sites and 92 percent are “extremely likely to recommend” their physician to friends and family.

Dr. David Manning, an orthopedic surgeon at Northwestern Medicine, a HealthLoop partner, had a score of 3.9 out of 5 with 15 reviews on the popular healthcare review site Healthgrades in September 2016. He began enrolling patients that month, and by June 2017, his score had jumped to 4.5 and his reviews topped 46 and counting.

In the past, patients who were satisfied with their physician would tell their neighbors, family, and friends. Today, patients who have daily communication with their providers want to talk about it publicly and online.

 

Higher PROM Survey Collection Rates

HealthLoop handles much of the heavy lifting when it comes to PROM surveys, which means that hospital staff do not need to add this to their workload.

Providers using HealthLoop see a 74 percent completion rate for PROM surveys and do not have to budget additional staff hours to get their completion rates this high.

HealthLoop partner Panorama Orthopedics & Spine Center started enrolling patients in January 2016. To date, they have sent out 37,555 surveys to patients across 27 different types of surveys. Panorama has found that 79 percent of activated patients complete PROM surveys, without any additional work from their staff.

 

Improved Care Coordination

In addition to enabling front-line staff to handle most incoming calls from patients—and significantly cutting down the total number of calls—hospitals using HealthLoop see an 84 percent decrease in unnecessary office visits.

Patients who are enrolled in patient engagement programs are far more likely to cancel the routine, two-week follow-up visit that is usually scheduled after a medical procedure because they feel that an in-person visit is unnecessary. This opens a slot on the schedule that can be filled with a new patient, which means more revenue for the healthcare provider, as well as the ability to see more patients without having to add more members to the care team.

Patient engagement does not just mean better health outcomes for patients, but measurable strides in efficiency for the provider.

 

Time to Stop Holding Back

A primary reason why some healthcare providers are reluctant to implement a new, automated system of patient engagement is because they’re in the process of implementing electronic health record (EHR) systems, which require investments of millions of dollars and significant staff hours.

But patient engagement platforms do not resemble EHR systems. They take just a fraction of the time and cost to install, and easily integrate with existing IT systems.

Administrators who are still on the fence about automated patient engagement should consider the potential returns on an investment that is far smaller than the investments made in EHR systems. Providers currently using HealthLoop see far fewer complications and hospital readmissions, higher online ratings for their physicians, fewer calls coming in from patients, fewer unnecessary office visits, and higher rates of PROM survey collection.

These benefits come in addition to the most important benefit of all: healthier, happier patients.

 

HealthLoop scales the impact of care teams through the power of patients. 

 

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