The most critical and vulnerable time in a patient’s healthcare journey is the period immediately following hospital discharge — during the transition to the home or another healthcare setting. This is because transitions of care can disrupt continuity of care, which is vital for effective management of chronic conditions or complex medical needs. The loss of a familiar healthcare provider or care team, along with the introduction of new providers, can create challenges in maintaining a comprehensive understanding of the patient’s health status and individual needs.
Furthermore, patients may have trouble understanding and navigating the healthcare system during this time. They may feel overwhelmed with new instructions, appointments, or changes in their treatment plans. Limited health literacy, language barriers, or inadequate patient education can further impede their ability to actively engage in their own care and make informed decisions.
That is why actively engaging patients in their care — prior — to discharge, plays a crucial role in ensuring patients receive the right care at the right time. When providers engage patients on the benefits and programs available to manage their care needs earlier, they are better able to influence the course of care, provide the patient with needed services, and limit additional costs associated with poor outcomes. Here are five specific benefits of that:
1. Enhanced communication:
Engaging patients prior to discharge encourages open and effective communication between patients and healthcare providers. Patients are able to ask questions, seek clarification, and express any concerns that they may have. This exchange of information helps bridge communication gaps, ensures that patients have a clear understanding of their care plan, and allows providers to address any misconceptions or gaps in knowledge while setting expectations for post-acute care.
2. Improved patient satisfaction:
When providers are more vocal and involved in patient care, their patients are more likely to have a positive experience and be more satisfied with their care. And, when providers actively listen to patients’ concerns, address their questions, and involve them in decision-making, it fosters trust and strengthens the provider-patient relationship (Trust is a fundamental component of patient engagement, as it allows patients to actively participate in their healthcare decisions, follow the recommendations of their providers, and can lead to improved patient satisfaction scores and reputation!).
3. Reduced costs:
When patients are more involved, they are more likely to follow treatment plans, adhere to medications, and make lifestyle changes that can prevent the need for more costly interventions down the line. Providers who engage with their patients prior to discharge are better able to direct patients to the appropriate level of high-quality post-acute care, providing an opportunity to reduce readmissions and control spend.
4. Improved health outcomes:
Patients who are more involved in their care are more likely to have improved health outcomes, which can lead to reduced hospitalizations, readmissions, and complications. Additionally, with earlier patient engagement, providers are better able to identify and manage higher-risk patients and ensure they are enrolled in the right programs and receiving appropriate post-acute care and services before they leave the hospital.
5. Streamlined transitions:
By beginning discharge planning activities earlier, such as scheduling follow-up appointments, arranging necessary equipment or supplies, and coordinating with post-acute care needs, providers can help improve the continuity of care. Engaging vulnerable patients on the benefits and programs available to manage their complicated needs earlier in their care journey allows providers to more heavily influence the course of care, provide the patient with needed services, and limit additional costs associated with poor outcomes. Additionally, patients are more likely to adhere to their care plan and take the necessary steps to prevent complications of their condition, which can lead to fewer readmissions and costs as well as smoother care transitions.
Visibility into factors like readmission risk, utilization history, and participation in value-based care programs is critical for providers to efficiently address gaps in care and intervene, when necessary, as patients transition through the continuum of care.
Overall, effective patient engagement strategies prior to discharge empowers the patient to take a more active role in their own care, enhances their understanding of their health condition and treatment plan, and facilitates a smoother transition from hospital to home or another care setting. By focusing on patient engagement, providers can reduce post-discharge risks and improve patient outcomes.
How CarePort, powered by WellSky can help
Providers often lack visibility into a patient’s status, preventing them from being able to more actively engage patients in their own care journey. However, with CarePort’s suite of solutions, providers can gain greater visibility into patient journeys, allowing them to improve patient care, care transitions, and outcomes. By being embedded in discharge planning workflows and providing insight into factors eligibility for value-based care programs, CarePort enables providers to engage with patients earlier in their care, make intelligent, informed care decisions, control spend, and improve outcomes.
Learn more about how CarePort®, powered by WellSky® can help your organization improve patient outcomes and engagement with increased visibility, intelligence, and influence.