Enhance patient satisfaction and engagement using technology-enabled care coordination

Hospitalized patients often experience a multitude of feelings—anxiety, fatigue and fear, not to mention possible pain. For those who require further treatment or recovery at post-acute facilities, a poor transition can heighten these feelings, adding stress to an already difficult situation.

Historically, post-acute patient placement has been a manual, somewhat impersonal process. Although case managers or discharge planners usually give the patient a list of possible post-acute facilities to consider, they commonly leave research and decision-making entirely up to the patient and his or her family. Additionally, when it comes time to transfer out of the hospital, the patient's medical record might—quite literally—travel on his or her lap to the receiving facility. Sharing medical records and discharge activities in such a disjointed, unconnected, way can lead to medication or medical errors, gaps in care and even unfavorable outcomes.

Discharges like these don't afford much opportunity for high-touch care, which most patients need during transition periods. Moreover, these types of discharges don't guarantee patients will transfer to a facility that is prepared to receive them or that can effectively meet their clinical or personal needs. If individuals are inappropriately placed, it can affect their overall satisfaction, as well as their clinical outcomes and readmission risk.

Taking Discharge to the Next Level
Now that hospitals are more accountable for what happens to patients in post-acute care, particularly with the addition of the new CJR, value-based payment model, they are starting to realize the importance of guiding patients and their families during this stressful time, providing more information and consideration as individuals make difficult decisions.

Using robust care coordination and discharge technology, hospitals can better equip themselves to help patients and their families select the most appropriate post-acute options. For instance, discharge planners can use technology to automatically narrow down and contact nearby receiving facilities based on the patient's clinical care and personal needs—generating a comprehensive, yet concise, list of facilities that are fully capable of meeting the patient's requirements.

Case managers can then spend time reviewing the list with patients and their families, shepherding them through the decision-making process. For example, leveraging online tour tools similar to those used by the real estate and hotel industries, case managers can help patients and their families view potential facilities virtually. As the adage goes, "A picture is worth a thousand words," — and seeing a space rather than just reading a list of its attributes and services is an effective and powerful way to aid the selection process. In an already emotional time when patients may feel helpless, this can also ease anxiety and give them some sense of control.

Once a patient and family select a post-discharge facility, a hospital can use automated discharge tools to electronically share the most relevant patient information with the receiving facility prior to the transition. This lets them prepare orders for therapy, medications and other treatments before the patient arrives on site, allowing for a seamless onboarding experience. Not only does a smooth transition prevent gaps in care, but patients will likely feel more confident in the care they receive and be more satisfied in general, which are key factors in today's consumer-driven climate.

Ultimately, organizations that work to make the discharge process more customized and compassionate can ease the transition from the hospital, facilitating greater patient satisfaction and higher quality care.

The views, opinions and positions expressed within these guest posts are those of the author alone and do not represent those of Becker's Hospital Review/Becker's Healthcare. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are not guaranteed. We accept no liability for any errors, omissions or representations. The copyright of this content belongs to the author and any liability with regards to infringement of intellectual property rights remains with them.​

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