Interactive Patient Education Reduces Readmissions, Increases Satisfaction: Kaiser Permanente Panorama Hospital Case Study

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Hospitals are increasingly challenged to engage patients in healthcare management and aid them in making informed decisions to improve their overall health and wellness. Federal regulations and meaningful use requirements urge hospitals to use health information technology and other initiatives to increase patient engagement, understanding and compliance. Hospitals that engage patients often see better outcomes, reduced readmissions and enhanced patient and staff satisfaction.

Some hospitals are implementing creative techniques to meet current expectations for patient-centric healthcare, such as on-demand digitized video education technology and interactive patient education systems. These interactive services allow hospitals to customize patient education and information sharing for a variety of medical needs. Kaiser Permanente Panorama City (Calif.) Hospital is one of the hospitals utilizing these creative techniques.

Challenge
KPPC serves a diverse population of more than 250,000 members in the east San Fernando Valley of California. In order to engage its patients, help them understand their hospital experience and treatment and to be more compliant with medical recommendations, KPPC needed a method beyond traditional print materials. Hospital officials wanted a method that would not clog the hospital's network, which was dealing with a large amount of information from a recent electronic medical record implementation. "In looking at many of the different interactive patient engagement systems in the market, the distribution of the signal was very important," said Robert Rebert, an audio/visual engineer at KPPC in a case study on the hospital. "A solution that streamed content would choke the system with the vast amounts of health data and administrative information flowing over our network," he said.

Solution
After extensive research, KPPC decided to implement an interactive patient system from TeleHealth Services called TIGR. Interactive patient education systems help hospitals educate and engage patients before, during and after their healthcare services. The TIGR system features regularly scheduled programming, patient-specific education plans, comprehension testing and satisfaction surveys that can be accessed via an HDTV in the patient's room. The system also features on-demand access to a hospital's complete library of education and hospital information. Patients may use their bedside telephone and/or HDTV to select and view educational videos at their own convenience.

"[Interactive patient education systems] provide a patient engagement device for hospitals. Whether [it is] the patient or the caregiver, they can access patient specific education, hospital information and other recovery information, such as pharmacy information, to fill prescriptions upon discharge. There are also other important education pieces throughout the recovery continuum — pre-hospital visit and throughout the hospital stay," says Matt Barker, vice president of marketing and customer development for TeleHealth Services.

KPPC implementation
According to Mr. Barker, KPPC was able to customize the TIGR system for its diverse patient demographics. The hospital created a series of programs in several languages and many sub¬ject areas such as chronic diseases, maternal and child health, healthy life¬styles, self-care, medical procedures and behavioral health. In addition, KPPC created a relaxation channel featuring music and guided images to enhance the healing environment for patients. KPPC's implementation of the technology on the hospital's HDTVs worked successfully because patients and hospital staff were already comfortable using the televisions.

KPPC took two additional steps during the implementation of its patient education system that other hospitals could follow to see successful outcomes.

• Create a committee to marry technology with patient education. Mei Lin Schwartz, MPH, director of health and physician education for KPPC, and Mr. Rebert created a committee to oversee inpatient and outpatient education using the TIGR system. Teams of nurses, physicians and other specialists were called upon to include practices and guidelines that would be most appropriate for patients.

• Train staff on new workflow, processes. The hospital staff was trained to incorporate the TIGR interactive patient education system into their workflows and patient education process. "The training for nurses, physicians and clinicians goes quickly because the education system is intuitive. Nurses do not have to give patients too much direction on using the system. Patients can use the system, learn about their condition and recovery and ask the nurse follow-up questions instead of having a nurse run the education session; the nurse can focus on clinical tasks," says Mr. Barker.

KPPC outcomes
KPPC has used the TIGR system as an effective engagement tool to provide patients and families timely prevention and treatment information. When patients better understand their conditions and recovery steps, it is less likely they will be readmitted to the hospital.

According to the KPPC case study, the hospital has seen improvements in readmission rates, patient satisfaction and overall hospital satisfaction:

• KPPC has reduced both cardiac and pneumonia readmission rates by more than six percent in less than two years.
• Patient satisfaction, reported as those patients who understand their condition, has increased from just over 70 percent in 2008 to 90 percent in 2010.
• Overall hospital satisfaction increased from approximately 80 percent in 2008 to 90 percent in 2010.

Hospital officials need to be thinking creatively to harness health information technology in order to reduce readmissions and increase patient engagement, especially with upcoming CMS readmission fines and stage 2 of meaningful use. The ability of interactive patient education systems to marry information technology and patient education makes them a valuable tool for hospitals.

More Articles on Patient Education:

8 Tips for Reducing Readmissions Through Better Transitions of Care
Report: Patient Education Reduced Unnecessary ED Visits by 17%
Patient Education Videos Before Operation May Boost Satisfaction

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