As any good hospital leader or physician knows, it’s important to strive for optimal patient care. A hospital in Cleveland, OH conducted “red flag” reports to measure patient care post-discharge and improve engagement. The results were surprising. About 64 patients a month didn’t make a follow-up appointment due to a variety of reasons, including lack of transportation and/or communication.
High-need, high-cost (HNHC) patients face a plethora of additional challenges, including undiagnosed or chronic medical conditions, repeated hospital visits, and economic struggles. Although this definition applies to only 5 percent of the U.S. population, HNHC patients account for 50 percent of health care costs.
Developing better quality of care and properly addressing obstacles throughout recovery could help lower your hospital or health system’s costs and increase patient engagement. Since HNHC patients account for most costs, it is logical for healthcare leaders to devise a plan to target their care optimization first. A focus group of HNHC patients offered the following suggestions for improvement.
Telemedicine. Patients were extremely open to the use of telemedicine. The convenience of using the service helped patients experience improved access to care. Additionally, the security of communicating directly with a provider helped eliminate some of the anxiety that preceded emergency room visits. By having a provider readily accessible, patients were more likely to seek education about their symptoms or issues, proving to be a suitable substitute to a traditional visit.
Mail-order prescriptions. Sometimes patients encountered barriers, preventing them from picking up prescriptions. Patients applauded home delivery, also mentioning that a larger refill supply helped them remain on track. Quite a few pharmacies are piloting automatic refills and home delivery, but respondents noted that these services should be better publicized and included in patient education.
Appointment scheduling and reminders. Even when transportation works out, sometimes patients need assistance with their day-to-day care. Care managers are an easy resource to trust and receive answers to questions. Even though the ROI of care management is still under review, the patients in the focus group fully supported its service.
In-home physical therapy and nursing services. Patients who had difficulty moving around post-operation or in general found this service especially helpful and a good transition after hospital stays.
Additional after-hours clinics. These additional clinics help decrease visits to the emergency department. Although conveniently-located after-hour clinics are not a new concept, patients felt that doctors and hospitals could do a better job of promoting their services and educating patients about when they might be a good alternative to an urgent care center or the ER.
Although many of the solutions are already being implemented in various healthcare settings, hospitals and health systems should ensure that they are delegating resources to strengthen their availability, reduce costs, and ultimately, enhance the patient experience.
To learn more about Medicus Healthcare Solutions and how we could help you with your recruiting efforts, call 855.301.0563 to speak with one of our knowledgeable staffing representatives today.