Evolving Patient Outcomes Pt. 2: How to Encourage Proactive Patients

Improving outcomes reporting and personalizing patient experiences has become a recent, pressing goal in the healthcare community. In fact, providers that capture patient feedback often struggle to make adjustments based on what could be considered subjective information. 

However, in response to the demand for more positive patient data, many therapy and rehab practices have adopted a proactive visit model, where provider-patient communication remains open even beyond scheduled appointments. This method is a far cry from reactive healthcare that only addresses health concerns after signs of illness or when injuries have already appeared!

While preventative healthcare, such as regular check-ups and screenings, can help keep a lot of those reactive appointments at bay, encouraging patient proactivity in their own health can minimize those instances even further, reducing the number of misdiagnoses, emergency health visits, and cost of treatment as well as improving – you guessed it – patient outcomes!

Proactive Patient Care Begins With Providers In The Workplace

Influencing proactive patients starts with a culture of value-based care in the office. Cultivating a staff of therapists and professionals dedicated to improving outcomes is only one piece of the puzzle – it’s important that staff members have the tools they need to complete their jobs efficiently, are able to communicate with their coworkers, as well as feel respected and valued in the work place. So much so, that studies have shown unprofessional or disruptive provider behavior, or even a fear of communication, has resulted in negative patient outcomes.

But don’t worry! By automating clinical and financial workflows, it’s possible to reduce stress in the workplace as well as devote more time to managing burnout and addressing the needs of healthcare professionals in the office.

Improving Diagnoses

40,000 to 80,000 patients die annually in the U.S. from diagnostic errors. Beyond this staggering number of lives lost, misdiagnoses are fiscally expensive! From unnecessary hospital stays, avoidable surgeries and exams, incorrect medications, and legal battles over medical malpractice, it’s estimated that roughly $100 billion dollars per year can be saved by improving the margin of misdiagnosis.

Unfortunately, diagnostic errors are largely made via human mistakes, which is not a simple thing to resolve. That’s why robust practice management software can play a massive role in reducing these mistakes by easing the workload for overworked therapists and administrative staff. By automating workflows, monitoring task performance, leveraging productivity metrics, and more, a scalable EMR helps streamline patient management through less tedious as well as increasingly accurate documentation, reporting, billing, etc.

Furthermore, with the power of modern technology, misdiagnoses can be lessened with predictive analytics and machine-learning that can identify at-risk patients. In the near future, it may even be possible to incorporate artificial intelligence alongside diagnostic tools that can be fully integrated into proactive patient care, improving outcomes and ultimately, saving lives.

Optimizing Plans Of Care

Treatment plans are rarely a one-size-fits-all situation, and with good reason! Patients with comorbidities, allergies, or other medical conditions often need a specialized plan of care – otherwise they may risk their health further. However, offering personalized treatment plans brings to light a massive hurdle that proactive care faces: expenses.

Often a practice needs to direct a patient to another facility for resources they cannot offer themselves, such as specialized equipment for diagnosis and evaluation. While inefficient and generally an unpleasant experience for the patient, the reality of affording state-of-the-art medical equipment (such as x-ray machines) is distant for many therapy and rehab practices.

One way to improve patient experiences amidst a referral is the utilization of Electronic Medical Records (EMR) software to track and communicate patient needs and medical issues between providers. While not every facility can afford the necessary equipment to treat every unique medical issue, streamlining the referral process with comprehensive reporting and credentialing modules can lift a huge burden off the shoulders of both therapists and patients alike.

Follow-up And Continuity Of Care

There have been dozens of studies that prove follow-up care plays a massive role in patient outcomes. For example, it’s predicted that 20% of hospital readmissions could be avoided for patients managing multiple chronic conditions if they are contacted by a provider of care within 14 days of discharge. With automated follow-up messaging, that number could easily become a reality and significantly tip the balance in favor of positive patient outcomes as well as reduce unnecessary medical costs.

Additionally, when polled by Accenture, more than half of all patients want to be able to access their data online. By introducing a patient portal with access to discharge instructions, patient data, as well as direct channels of communication, healthcare professionals are encouraging patients to be active participants in their own health.

Establishing Healthy Habits

Part of being a proactive therapy and rehab provider is the continued delivery of quality care even when the patient may seem perfectly healthy post-discharge. This doesn’t necessarily mean setting up frequent appointments – quality care can also take the form of targeted messages, routine check-up reminders, and engagement campaigns that promote healthy habits in a patient’s day-to-day life. 

Regardless of the provider’s therapy specialty, here are some habits that all healthcare professionals and patients benefit from the most:

  • Good sleep hygiene
  • Balanced diet
  • Regular exercise
  • Regular check-ups

Translating Software-as-a-Relationship Into Real Life

When a provider uses open communication to foster a healthy, trusting relationship with a patient, that patient is more likely to influence their peers, creating a community with healthier habits and more positive patient outcomes. Vice versa – when a patient is involved in the economy of their plan of care rather than just episodically, both parties can reap the benefits of proactively empowering good health and wellbeing.