4 Benefits of Patient Accountability Before and After Surgery

Patient preparedness is key to great health outcomes, lower costs, and higher levels of patient satisfaction. But have you considered how patient accountability before and after surgery can help you achieve it?

According to a recent review, only 11% of publications discussed accountability as a factor influencing patient adherence, indicating that patient accountability may be significantly underused in healthcare. Encouraging patient accountability before and after surgery incentivizes better patient engagement and results in important benefits for patients, providers, and payers alike. That’s why it’s so beneficial to understand how patient accountability works and how to facilitate it in your surgical practice. 

Key Takeaways

  • Patient accountability is a way to incentivize patient behaviors which improve health outcomes.
  • Patients, providers, and payers all benefit from patient accountability because it is rooted in patient engagement and preparedness.
  • You can promote patient accountability in your practice by encouraging self-care, providing good guidance, and emphasizing the patients’ right to veto.

What is Patient Accountability?

Patient accountability is not a new concept, but since the healthcare industry began to shift toward a patient-centered and value-based model of care, it has become an increasingly important component. It describes patients’ role in their own medical care, such as adhering to preoperative preparation instructions to ensure the best possible health outcomes.

Proponents of patient accountability assert that it is essential to the success of any patient-centered healthcare system because, without the buy-in and participation of their patients, care providers are limited in their ability to deliver effective care. 

For example, if a patient does not schedule and attend the follow-up appointment that you recommended, you cannot be held fully accountable for any complications that result from the missed appointment. This is where patient accountability comes into play to allocate patients their fair share of responsibility for the outcomes of their medical care, and to incentivize patients to become engaged and active partners in their healthcare.

Patient accountability can be implemented on the level of individual practice or a network level. The Accountable Care Organization (ACO) is a network model in which medical facilities partner to focus on preventative care and promote patient accountability.

what is ACO
Source httpsdevelopmentbmcorgour impactstoriesbmc accountable care

The Benefits of Patient Accountability Before and After Surgery

Patient accountability has a host of benefits for providers, patients, and payers alike:

1. Higher Levels of Patient Engagement and Participation

Taking a patient accountability approach to surgery incentivizes patient engagement and participation, which is beneficial for health outcomes, help to lower costs, and increases patient satisfaction.

The more engaged your patients are, the better they can: 

  • Absorb patient education to fully understand their care plan
  • Recognize the importance of their role in their care plan
  • Maintain clear and ongoing communication with you and the rest of their care team
  • Provide you with comprehensive information about their medical history and progress that you can use to tailor their care
  • Complete their preoperative preparation
  • Adhere to postoperative recommendations
  • Identify and alert you of any postoperative complications or concerns that arise promptly so they can be addressed quickly

These positive outcomes of good patient engagement demonstrate the power that patients have to impact their own health outcomes, and help make a case for an approach to healthcare that incentivizes patient accountability.

2. Better Health Outcomes

The resulting increase in patient participation means that emphasizing patient accountability will increase the positive outcomes of surgical procedures. High levels of patient engagement have been linked to improved health outcomes and anxiety levels, resulting in more effective care for your patients. By encouraging patient accountability, you will, in effect, encourage patients to act in their own best interests and become active partners in their surgical journey.

3. Lower Healthcare Costs

Many of the inefficiencies throughout the surgical journey stem from poor patient-surgeon communication. Costs arising from these inefficiencies can be minimized in a patient accountability approach by communicating to patients the importance of their role in the process.

Good patient accountability incentivized patients to: 

  • Give a thorough medical history
  • Complete required paperwork in a timely manner
  • Submit payment on time
  • Adhere to scheduled appointment times
  • Give notice for cancellations and postponements

These behaviors, in turn, help you and your clinical staff avoid duplicate testing, ineffective treatments, missed appointments, and unnecessary administrative work, which all add to the cost of care.

4. Higher Patient Satisfaction

Finally, the improved health outcomes and lower costs resulting from a patient accountability approach translate into higher satisfaction levels for your surgical patients. This can positively impact your patient retention and acquisition, help you increase your market share, improve your practice’s reputation, and promote future growth.

Ultimately, patient accountability promotes patient engagement, which creates a superior patient experience.

How to Encourage Patient Accountability

True patient accountability is not a simple matter of assigning blame for poor health outcomes. Instead, it should be used as a lens through which to strengthen the patient-surgeon relationship. Investing in resources and procedures to promote patient participation through patient accountability yields benefits for patients and providers alike. 

You can promote higher levels of patient accountability using three core concepts:


The concept of self-care aims to consider each patient’s holistic needs in an integrated, rather than responsive, approach. You should educate and empower your patients to give themselves quality care that integrates seamlessly with their daily lives.

Delivering pre-and post-operative care plans and reminders in convenient and accessible ways is one example that can help patients stay engaged and promotes beneficial behaviors such as exercise and healthy eating. Another example is education: in a recent study on patients at risk of heart failure, a disease education program called “the Weak Heart” increased self-care behaviors in participants.

Self-care behaviors before and after participation in “the Weak Heart” education program
Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8214567/

Thorough Guidance

Provide patients with contacts and resources they can use to ask for help when they need it. Enable and encourage your patients to communicate regularly to address their medical needs as early as possible.

The Right to Veto

It’s essential to inform patients that they are in control of their own healthcare. The era of a surgeon making decisions for a patient who is kept in the dark is over. Today, patients always have the right to understand the healthcare they are receiving and decline procedures that are not right for them.

For Patient Accountability, Communication is Key

It should be clear how important good patient-surgeon communication is to the patient accountability model. Without clear lines of communication open, your patients can’t access the vital resources they need to implement self-care practices, seek your guidance, and stay engaged in their surgical journey.

That’s why Wellbe’s flexible care automation solutions are designed to fit seamlessly into your practice and support the entire patient journey, helping you keep your patients engaged and accountable for their care.  

Talk to a Solutions Specialist today to find out how Wellbe can work for you.