Healthcare News & Insights

How other hospitals use patients to improve

More hospitals are turning to this source for information to help them improve outcomes and satisfaction — the patients themselves. 

ThinkstockPhotos-512188581This shouldn’t come as a big surprise, given the industry is shifting to a more patient-centered model of care.

The shift has left industry leaders more concerned about patients’ expectations of and satisfaction with providers, than they were before. And to meet patients’ needs, facilities are getting help straight from the horse’s mouth.

Rise of patient advisors

As Kaiser Health News reports, there’s been an uptick in the number of hospitals seeking patient input on a variety of matters with patient advisory councils.

According to Mary Minniti, a program and resource specialist at the Institute of Patient and Family Centered Care, data from 2013 shows 40% of hospitals had some kind of advisory council in place.

That trend is likely to continue as leaders continue to be spurred on by government care quality improvement programs and value-based payment models.

But creating and implementing a council is only the first step.

Minniti also says, to be truly effective, patient councils can’t just operate in isolated silos — they have to be involved in decisionmaking and be connected to your operations and leadership.

Some examples of ways other hospitals have accomplished this:

  • Partners Healthcare had its council help the facility research and select a new electronic health record (EHR) system.
  • Spectrum Health’s council helped it improve call button response times.
  • Spectrum has also involved some patient council members in its hiring process by helping managers review nurse and physician candidates.
  • MedStar Health’s patient council helped the facility reduce instances of patient confusion, which can lead to destructive behavior, for people who’ve been in the intensive care unit for more than a day.

As a result of their councils’ actions, many of these providers have seen a noticeable uptick in patient satisfaction scores.

Community care

In addition to gathering input and information from patient councils, hospitals may also have to find methods for collecting similar information on a larger scale.

Evaluating their patient mix and community can help hospitals determine how best to tailor and improve their operations to suit evolving patient needs.

For example, according to Hospitals & Health Networks, the North Ottawa Community Health System (NOCH) has used community data to redesign its emergency room, as well as help collaborate and coordinate care with other providers in the area.

NOCH conducted a community-wide assessment, gathering information and analytics about how people used the facility. It found that one out of five patients using the emergency department (ED) should have been treated in a different setting. However, its target population often lacked the resources to properly manage their health.

Rather than create a new clinic for these patients, which would compete for funding and pull resources away from other clinics in the area, NOCH chose to address the issue by collaborating with other providers to improve care coordination.

Now, they’ve added social services and are looking for different ways to use skill paramedics to follow-up with patients after leaving the ED.

Other hospital leaders will want to take similar steps as NOCH to address community health issues.

It’s important for facilities to evaluate their communities, identify ongoing health challenges and reach out to potential partners in the area to determine effective solutions.

Finding ways to gather actionable information from the community will likely continue to be an important part of the new patient-centered, value-based environment.

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