4 Key Reasons To Improve Preoperative Patient Engagement

By Nefeli Kritikou, Marketing Manager, Lumeon

Patient engagement isn’t a new concept. Its importance has been widely researched with a wide range of evidence supporting its impact on lowering costs and improving patient outcomes. However, addressing patients’ unique needs and ensuring open doctor-patient communication isn’t always feasible. In a constantly evolving healthcare landscape with regulatory changes, growing patient volumes and demands for costs reductions, engaging patients remains a challenge for health providers.

In surgery, the importance of patient engagement is even greater. Given the risk and complexity of surgical procedures, timely surgeon-patient communication and interaction are paramount for surgical outcomes.  The positive relationship between patient engagement and post-surgery outcomes isn’t beneficial just for patients though – it has significant implications for a wider number of health care players such as providers, medical device manufacturers, and insurers.

Despite the limitations in its implementation, everyone interested in fostering patient engagement agrees it will yield benefits. Here are four key reasons to invest in patient engagement:


To minimize surgery cancellations

The most common reason for surgery cancellations is patient no-shows and miscommunicated changes in the patient’s medical status. Studies show that the surgery cancellation rate in the U.S. is as high as 23%, with more than half of these cancellations caused by non-critical factors. Causing a significant loss of revenue and wasted resources for care providers [1], most cancellations can easily be avoided by earlier clinical assessment of patients, better planning and documentation and increased involvement of patients in the scheduling process [2].

To avoid intra & post-operative complications

While complication rates have declined over the last decades, surgical complications traced back to problems with the patient’s medical assessment are still common [3]. Lack of patient engagement can lead to the clinical team not getting all the information needed from patients, which can pose great threats to patient safety. What is more, studies have shown significantly lower problem incidence for engaged patients [4], as well as a link between effective communication and objective medical outcomes – such as blood pressure, blood glucose, and functional status [5].

To reduce readmissions

Lack of patient education around the operative, discharge and post-surgery phases can lead to recovery issues and costly readmissions [6]. Patients who haven’t been educated run an increased risk of forgetting or misunderstanding important recovery information given to them after surgery. Yet, even in the case of well-informed patients, inadequate patient engagement throughout surgery can lead to non-adherence to medical instructions. Identifying high-risk patients, engaging them throughout the process, and addressing their individual needs are key patient engagement tactics to reduce readmissions.

To improve patient experience and satisfaction

Studies have underlined a strong link between patient engagement and the overall patient experience. Patients want to feel they matter to their physician and care team. Engaged patients have shown to be significantly more satisfied with their surgery journey and results. High patient satisfaction scores are becoming increasingly important – not only they affect patient retention and reduce the possibility of medical malpractice claims, but can also contribute to improved Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) survey scores and a greater share of incentive payments.

Physicians have long understood the value of engaging patients in their surgery, care journey, and recovery. Patient engagement in an initiative that every hospital should be thinking about and working toward – not only it is critical to surgery outcomes and patient experience, but poor engagement can lead to significant loss of revenue for providers.

Taking steps to improve patient engagement, providers have turned to their EHRs or purpose-built patient engagement technologies – yet often these top-down designed systems fail to achieve real results. This is because true perioperative patient engagement isn’t just about notifications, forms, and calls. True patient requires a patient-first pathway-driven approach to perioperative care delivery.

REFERENCES

[1] Dimitriadis, PA. Iyer, S. Evgeniou, E. The challenge of cancellations on the day of surgery, Int J Surg. 2013;11(10):1126-30. doi: 10.1016/j.ijsu.2013.09.002. Epub 2013 Sep 12.

[2] Hovlid et al.; A new pathway for elective surgery to reduce cancellation rates, BMC Health Services Research 201212:154, https://doi.org/10.1186/1472-6963-12-154

[3] Haynes, AB. Weiser, TG. Berry, WR. et al. The Safe Surgery Saves Lives Study Group A surgical safety checklist to reduce morbidity and mortality in a global population. N Engl J Med. 2009;360(5):491–499.

[4] Ellrich M. Yu, D. The Benefits of Pre-Surgery Education, Gallup.com, https://news.gallup.com/businessjournal/183317/benefits-pre-surgery-education.aspx

[5] D’Angelica M, Hirsch K, Ross H, Passik S, Brennan MF. Surgeon-Patient Communication in the Treatment of Pancreatic Cancer. Arch Surg. 1998;133(9):962–966. doi:10.1001/archsurg.133.9.962

[6] Morales, C. Lemes Pozza, Alexandre, Jenefer Garcez, Prim, Suzana, & Amante, Lúcia Nazareth. (2014). Perioperative communication from the perspective of patients undergoing bariatric surgery. Texto & Contexto – Enfermagem, 23(2), 347-355.