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Leapfrog Report Identifies Patient Experience Challenges in Hospitals And Outpatient Facilities

Posted by Debra Zalvan on Jul 29, 2021 10:38:26 AM
Debra Zalvan
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Earlier this month, The Leapfrog Group published a report titled, What Patients Think About Their Hospitals and Ambulatory Surgery Centers: An Analysis of Patient Experience Surveys.

The report’s most striking highlights point to significant ongoing deficits in the patient experience, despite decades of focus by the healthcare industry.

Earlier this month, The Leapfrog Group published a report titled, What Patients Think About Their Hospitals and Ambulatory Surgery Centers: An Analysis of Patient Experience Surveys. The report is compiled from data collected from hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs) through Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) surveys, as well as additional surveys by The Leapfrog Group.

The report’s most striking highlights point to significant ongoing deficits in the patient experience, despite decades of focus by the healthcare industry.

The challenges represent opportunities for digital healthcare technologies to solve these deficits, improve the patient experience and – importantly for hospitals and ASCs – improve the willingness of their patients to recommend the facility to friends and family.

Almost half of hospital patients do not understand important details about their care after they leave the hospital.

According to the report, only 52.1% of patients clearly understood the purpose of their medications and their self-care responsibilities upon leaving the hospital. Since patient behaviors and self-care have significantly greater effects on health outcomes than the medical care received, the implications are important.

Many hospitals continue to rely on printed materials and verbal communication of transition care information to patients. Yet for many patients, the ability to focus and comprehend important information may be compromised by:

  • their condition,
  • their medication, or simply
  • fear and uncertainty associated with an unfamiliar environment and circumstance.

However, a scalable, digital solution that delivers the information a patient needs at the exact time he or she needs it—with remote monitoring that alerts healthcare providers to potential complications—results in better outcomes and patients who are more likely to recommend a facility to friends and family.

Patients, themselves, understand the added value of this engagement. As one patient wrote,

Your post-op emails helped me to know what to expect & watch for. I was able to recognize I had a serious issue and tell my husband, "Call an ambulance, I think I have a blood clot." He was able to share the info with the EMT's and they found a Saddle blockage. Your patient education has definitely made a difference in my life!

– Total Joint patient, MercyOne Des Moines Medical Center

The patient experience at hospital outpatient departments and ASCs is rated higher than at hospitals, but significant room for improvement remains.

While these patients generally reported a more favorable experience, their willingness to recommend the outpatient facility to family and friends was significantly lower than their satisfaction with the facilities, staff, and communications about the procedure. Only 87.6% of ASC patients and 82.1% of HOPD patients were willing to recommend their facility, even though other ratings in the survey were well into the 90s.

Though the report did not explore the reasons for this disconnect, one hypothesis is the very limited experience a patient has with the outpatient facility. Throughout an episode of care, a patient’s main point of contact is his or her doctor or specialist. Any exposure to the outpatient facility may not be sufficient enough for a recommendation.

So, how can an ASC or HOPD make a more memorable impression on their patients? Again, a scalable digital solution may be the answer. Integrated into the scheduling system, a patient engagement platform can send targeted, relevant communication to patients in preparation for their procedures and throughout recovery. This ensures that each patient has the information they need.

A patient engagement platform that also enables remote patient monitoring can provide critical feedback to healthcare professionals and peace of mind to the patient, while reinforcing the facility’s role in that patient’s successful health journey. In this way, the HOPD or ASC not only supports the patient on the health journey, but also the specialist or surgeon using the facility to achieve the best possible health outcome.

Parents are concerned about preventing mistakes after their children’s hospital stay.

One particularly concerning statistic cited in the report is that only 62% of parents completing the Child HCAHPS after their child’s hospital stay gave the most favorable response on how well-equipped they felt to report concerns that might prevent any at-home care mistakes.

When parents believe they don’t have the ability to report concerns (especially about not knowing or understanding care instructions for their child), outcomes will suffer. Scalable, digital, patient engagement provides opportunities to both educate parents and offer frequent opportunities for feedback (which provides the hospital or healthcare facility with important data).

This kind of patient engagement works! Among new parents* using our SmarteXp® patient engagement platform with our Pregnancy and Early Childhood care pathway:

  • 95% say they take better care of themselves
  • 97% say they take better care of their children
  • 93% are more confident in managing their care
  • 87% feel better prepared for appointments

Meanwhile, the feedback our platform-generated messages receive from patients is revealing. Here are just a few examples illustrating the power and influence a patient engagement platform can have for your organization:

There have been times that I felt an odd situation was just mine and it made me feel much better when I read in your messages how almost everything I am going through as a mom, is normal. This reduces anxiety. Thank you!

- New Mom, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center

In another powerful example, the Resource Center Program Coordinator at Dayton Children’s Hospital shared how, after only a few weeks, the SmarteXp® digital messaging helped identify and support a family in need. This particular example demonstrated the strong potential of patient engagement technology to address the challenge of maternal and infant mortality, particularly during the pandemic:

"I just finished a call from a family who is interested in the Cribs for Kids program, which she heard about through our text messages. Her baby is 2 months old and sleeping with her in her bed. She said in her culture (Chinese) babies share a bed with their parents. Our text program encouraged her to seek out a safe sleep option for her baby! I plan to drop a crib off to her on Thursday."

Scalable, digital, patient-engagement solutions improve the experience of patients and healthcare providers alike.

Education, engagement, data collection, remote patient monitoring and reporting are all critical elements of the patient experience. In the current environment—with so many hospitals and healthcare organizations forced to do more with less—this latest report shines a light on the opportunities for a scalable, digital, patient engagement solution to address the more vexing healthcare challenges and improve the experience of patients and providers alike.

*New parents enrolled as part of our contract with the U.S. Department of Defense, reporting in 2019.

Topics: Patient Engagement, Patient Experience, patient satisfaction, UbiCare, HCAHPS