Rural Health Day and the Need for More Care Options

Posted by Deirdre Wilson on Nov 15, 2018 3:35:00 PM

More than 60 million Americans live in rural communities, where small hospitals strain to stay open amid increasing healthcare demands and dwindling revenue. Today, Nov. 15, 2018, is for them, and for the dedicated healthcare providers among them.

It’s National Rural Health Day, the third Thursday in November designated by the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health to celebrate rural healthcare providers and call attention to the unique health needs of rural populations. More than 80 small community hospitals have closed since 2010; hundreds of others struggle to survive.

Telehealth services, now offered by several healthcare systems nationwide, have become a lifeline for rural patients who can’t always travel the distances required to reach urban hospitals for care. Physicians and other healthcare providers electronically communicate “face to face” with these patients to help them manage everything from influenza to chronic conditions such as diabetes or congestive heart failure.

But as demand for long-distance healthcare grows, telehealth isn’t the only solution (nor the best one) available to healthcare providers.

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Topics: Patient Experience, Improving Patient Outcomes, Population Health, Innovation

Balancing Patient Safety and Satisfaction When Lowering C-Section Rates

Posted by Deirdre Wilson on Nov 7, 2018 1:36:12 PM

A recent study offers yet another push for hospitals to lower elective C-section rates. Research published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, has found a link between C-sections and an increased risk of food allergies. 

C-sections are performed in nearly a third of U.S. births, and half of these surgeries are considered avoidable. Thus, the pressure to lower the rates of this procedure – and it's accompanying risks, which range from infection to excessive blood loss and even maternal death – is mounting from all sides. The Joint Commission, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the National Quality Forum and independent hospital rating firms (such as Leapfrog, which reports on them by hospital) all care about C-section rates. Even media organizations such as Parents.com are weighing in.

All of this puts hospitals in the delicate situation of discouraging elective C-sections, while keeping those patients who request the procedure – without fully understanding the risks – satisfied with their care. Yes, hospitals want to keep their expectant patients happy, but their biggest priority here is maternal and child safety.

So what can hospitals do to help lower C-section rates?

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Topics: Patient Engagement, Patient Experience, patient activation, healthcare marketing, Healthcare Technology, Improving Patient Outcomes

Hospitals Must Rethink How They Deliver Orthopedic Care to Meet New Joint Replacement Requirements

Posted by Deirdre Wilson on Oct 18, 2018 7:12:00 AM

The Joint Commission this year announced a major change for hospitals and health systems seeking advanced, disease-specific, Total Hip and Total Knee Replacement Certification. Hospitals now need to comply with additional performance measures to try to address the top clinical concerns in healthcare today.

The new measures are associated with fewer post-op complications, readmissions and deaths and lower cost – emphasizing how critical it is for healthcare to move the needle in these areas. In addition to focusing on clinical metrics, the Joint Commission is emphasizing the need for patient-reported feedback – once again acknowledging that patients are key partners in reducing healthcare costs. 

Lowering cost, improving post-surgical outcomes and driving patient-reported feedback are lofty goals for the Joint Commission to set for hospitals. But these goals are achievable if hospitals expand how they deliver orthopedic care to include reaching patients outside hospital walls.

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Topics: Episode of Care, Improving Patient Outcomes, Patient Engagement, Innovation, Patient Experience

Using Direct Patient Activation to Motivate Patients

Posted by Debra Zalvan on Sep 13, 2018 8:05:00 AM

Imagine you are one of the 1.1 million people about to have a joint replacement this year. Your doctor gave you information during your pre-op visit but you were so busy worrying about your recovery and how you would manage your daily responsibilities, that you missed a lot of the details. Your husband took some notes but he was also overwhelmed at the thought of you being off your feet for 6 weeks. You’ve been doing the best you can with what you remember of your care instructions and you’re hoping for a successful outcome.

Now imagine, instead, that you started to receive care instructions and check-ins from your surgeon after that first pre-op visit. The information helped you remember what your doctor said, reminded you what you need to know at every point in this process (which can be more than six months from pre-op through recovery) and eased your anxiety.

That level of engagement is known as patient activation – the act of energizing a person to manage his or her own health and healthcare with knowledge, skills and confidence. Patient activation is associated with better post-surgical outcomes, including a 40% decrease in 30-day readmissions and 21% lower care costs in the year after surgery.

Hospitals are making that impact even stronger by employing what is referred to as direct patient activation – motivating patients with regular, targeted mobile connections delivered through push messaging.

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Topics: patient activation, Episode of Care, Healthcare Technology, Innovation, Patient Experience, Patient Engagement, Improving Patient Outcomes