If you happened to sit next to me yesterday morning on my flight to Boston, you would have seen me thumbing through recent back issues of several healthcare publications: H&HN, Healthcare Marketing Report, Health Leaders and Healthcare Strategy Alert. In the May 2011 issue of H&HN (Hospitals & Health Networks) I found a terrific article about Health Coaches and their role in ensuring that patients and families are engaged partners in their care (one of the national priorities stipulated in the Affordable Care Act).
Systems of coordinated care, particularly those that include health coaches, can play an important role is helping hospitals avoid unnecessary patient readmissions and improving the overall patient experience. “Though many readmissions are planned, experts say some could be avoided partly by helping patients understand their conditions and what they need to do once they’re out of the hospital, and then stay in contact with them to make sure they follow through.” (Source: H&HN, May 2011, p. 21) Many patients who are readmitted have not seen or spoken with a healthcare profession since being discharged from the hospital.
It is now evident that our engagement with the patient should not begin and end at the hospital’s front door. Hospitals and healthcare providers are going to need to travel this journey with the patient and provide support remotely. It is going to be up to healthcare providers to proactively impact the health behavior of their patients (particularly those dealing with chronic disease) and to trigger appropriate screenings: high blood pressure, glucose levels, cholesterol, immunizations, cancer, etc.
It is interesting how things often come full circle. In the past I’ve written about Family Health Network, a client of mine. Family Health Network develops integrated technology solutions that connect patients in their home with the members of their care team, opening the door to improved communication and better health outcomes. They design tools that enable coordinated care and that engage patients, physicians and other members of the care team.
Family Health Network’s Connected for Life online communications platform enables health care professionals and caregivers to remotely monitor, record, and track a patient’s health status and medication use on a daily basis. The patient is actively involved by entering his or her health status and medication use daily. The technology also allows them to video conference with his or her physician or pharmacist. By providing real-time information sharing with healthcare providers and other members of the care team, this low cost program empowers patients, relieves stress of caregivers, lowers the cost of care, and improves quality of life. Family Health Network’s Connected for Life holds the promise to be the centerpiece of a next generation of patient-centered, coordinated care. For more information about Family Health Network, visit http://www.familyhealthnetwork.com/.
Post by Dan Dunlop, The Healthcare Marketer