Hospitals have long been challenged to reduce costs while improving outcomes. Now, more than ever, they need to maintain high standards for patient experience, while focusing on hard metrics such as readmissions, length of stay, emergency department use, discharge destination and day-of-surgery cancellations. The financial implications of ignoring those metrics are simply too big. At a four-hospital system in the Midwest, the cost of emergency department visits alone ranges from $500–$4,000 per visit.
There, the CMIO was interested in pairing technology with targeted content to improve these metrics. For 10 years, this hospital system had used UbiCare’s SmarteXp® digital patient engagement platform to connect with and educate expectant and new parent patients. Healthcare providers there knew it was effective in engaging this population.
The CMIO saw research that showed the efficacy of digitally educating and engaging total joint replacement patients from pre-op through post-op and was intrigued. He was confident his health system could do even better, by digitally guiding joint replacement patients and setting their expectations before and after surgery.
The hospital system implemented the SmarteXp platform to automatically deliver evidence-based push messages to joint replacement patients as early as 6 weeks pre-op through 6 months post-op recovery. The platform automatically sends patients information about preparing for surgery, what to expect, and how to position themselves for the best possible recovery. By identifying gaps in processes and topics that needed re-enforcement with patients, the hospital system was able to customize and emphasize information to impact the five care and cost outcomes it wanted to focus on.
The hospitals recognized that the most efficient way to achieve maximum impact was to connect this tool with their EHR, to facilitate enrollment in the patient engagement program and track and measure downstream impact. With an EHR connection, every patient scheduled for total joint replacement surgery automatically received the hospital-branded messaging. For this hospital system, digital education became an effective standard of care.
SmarteXp’s multi-media, hospital-branded emails and texts are designed to engage patients, pre-empt questions and boost their confidence. The hospital system achieved remarkably high engagement, with 71% of patients who received the messages viewing more than 50% of them. There was no distinction in engagement between patients with public or private insurance. More importantly, this engagement was associated with statistically significant improvements in length of stay and ED visit rates.
In fact, all of the cost metrics the system wanted to influence—readmissions, length of stay, ED visits, discharge to home and day-of-surgery cancellations—were positively impacted. The CMIO wanted to make a difference to the care and cost equation, and now has evidence-based proof that digital connections throughout the patient care episode result in better health outcomes and improved cost metrics. Learn more about how digital patient engagement provides a better care experience.
Next week, we’ll talk about the impact that patient engagement has on the care team.