6 Ways Hospitals Can Lower the Costs of Bariatric Surgery

hospitals can lower bariatric surgery costs with personalized care automation

Bariatric and metabolic surgery is widely considered the most efficacious way for long-term health outcomes for obesity. In 2019, surgeons performed over a quarter of a million bariatric surgeries in the United States alone (representing approximately 1.1% of all eligible patients).

Personalized care automation tools can lower bariatric surgery costs for hospitals. As technology continues to play a more prominent role in the healthcare ecosystem, patients, providers, and hospitals must establish effective partnerships to balance both costs and quality of care.

Key Takeaways

Hospitals should invest in cost-saving digital solutions that lower bariatric surgery costs in the following ways:

  • Engage and empower patients to take ownership of their health
  • Automate workflows to increase staff productivity
  • Improve patient satisfaction to increase referrals
  • Optimize staffing to deliver quality care
  • Improve data collection methods to encourage shared decision-making 
  • Simplify the patient journey

How Hospitals Can Manage the Costs of Bariatric Surgery

The average cost of bariatric surgery ranges from $17,000 to $26,000, though costs rise steeply when there are complications that require readmission.

For this reason, providers and hospital administrators must look at a wide range of cost-reduction strategies to manage bariatric surgery costs while continuing to deliver exceptional patient care.

Here are 6 ways hospitals can lower the costs of bariatric surgery:

  1. Increase Patient Engagement

To prepare for a successful surgical experience, patients must thoroughly understand pre-and post-op lifestyle modifications and recognize when and how to seek guidance from providers when they experience complications.

When patients understand what to expect before, during, and after their surgery, they are better equipped to manage their recovery process. Personalized care automation tools, such as Wellbe’s self-service solutions, engage patients in the self-management process.

Providing patients with the right tools and education at the right time helps them navigate their bariatric medical journey in a way that dramatically improves their outcomes.  

engaged patient using technology to follow post-op bariatric surgery guidelines

Interdisciplinary teams are charged with delivering comprehensive patient education, including training on how to collect and report data. By sharing ownership of data collection through patient engagement, providers can focus their efforts on supporting the recovery process.

Engaging patients in the data collection process not only reduce staff burden, but also encourages patients to become active participants in their bariatric care journey.

Patient-generated data is more meaningful for patients, making it more likely that they’ll act on the data in a way that supports their recovery. The data collection process also allows patients to see the connection between their behaviors and outcomes, which enables them to make necessary changes to avoid costly complications.

With increased engagement, patients build more confidence to self-manage their long-term surgical recovery. Using technology, providers can guide patients through their surgical journey effectively and efficiently.

Personalized care automation tools can help empower patients to become more invested in their care.

  1. Automate Workflows

Automated guided workflows increase staff productivity and quality of care. Technology improves time management, ensures consistent use of evidence-based practice guidelines, and relieves unnecessary burdens on staff so they can devote more time to personalizing care.

Hospitals should regularly assess how patients move through the perioperative stages of their surgery. This data offers insights and identifies opportunities to improve workflow and reduce costs.

Automation also streamlines workflows. By automating processes that have historically required excessive manual inputs, staff can be reallocated to more essential tasks that improve patient satisfaction and outcomes.

Hospitals that leverage digital tools to create more efficient care team workflows realize cost savings.

Optimized workflows reduce:

  • Staffing needs
  • Patient wait times
  • Medical errors

For example, allowing patients to use online schedulers that include appointment reminders reduces the frequency of reschedules, no shows, and cancellations. This simple shift also reduces the need for scheduling staff, managing manual updates and phone calls to patients.

Comprehensive digital solutions also provide a centralized location for care plans, allowing staff to universally access and manage data in real-time.  

To reduce administrative and staffing costs related to bariatric surgery, ensure that your digital solutions are optimizing workflows.

  1. Improve Patient Satisfaction  

Patient satisfaction involves more than just successful surgical outcomes. It includes how the patient experiences their entire treatment journey—from the initial consultation to discharge.

Happy patients are referring patients. When patients have good experiences, they are more likely to share their experiences with others, formally and informally.

Hospitals should review patient satisfaction surveys regularly and adjust workflows to improve patient satisfaction when possible.

One way to improve patient satisfaction is to facilitate shared decision-making between patients and providers. Personalization, or tailoring each patient’s care to their personal preferences and needs, builds trust and encourages shared decision-making.

Simplifying the patient’s journey also improves patient satisfaction. Each point of contact is an opportunity to reduce friction points in the care process.

Put yourself in the patient’s shoes. Can they easily find answers to their questions? Is there a clear process for handling billing issues? Have they been educated on what to expect after discharge? Do they know what to do if they experience complications?

Here are a few ways hospitals can reduce pinch points for patients in an effort to increase satisfaction:

  •       Escalation Management: Create an escalation process to resolve patient concerns quickly.
  •       Patient Satisfaction: Administer patient surveys at key points throughout their continuum of care to collect feedback on their experience.
  •       Patient Education: Provide online patient education tools that patients can reference throughout their surgical journey.
  •       Billing Management: Make it easy for patients to resolve billing issues.

Satisfied patients share positive results with friends, family, and other health care providers, which may lead to more consults, more patients, and ultimately higher surgical volumes.

  1. Optimize Staffing

High-functioning interdisciplinary care teams are critical for achieving successful bariatric surgery results, yet staffing continues to be a challenge for many health care organizations.

Hospitals hire new CEOs on average every 3.5 years, replacing nearly half their leadership teams within the following year. High leadership churn rates have a negative impact on morale.

Turnover is higher when employees face frequent disruptions in workflow, which has a negative impact on staff productivity, quality of care, and patient satisfaction.  

However, hospitals that focus on staff retention efforts, such as career development plans and reduction of administrative work for the clinical staff, typically minimize turnover and reduce additional expenses that come with training and onboarding expenses. Furthermore, having more automated workflows can reduce the disruptions often caused through leadership changes.

  1. Improve Data Collection Methods

Data-driven decisions are critical for providers and patients, helping to reduce readmissions and revision surgeries.

Technology that captures patient-reported outcomes (PROs) offer a cost-effective way to collect data after bariatric surgery. Patients who collect and self-report data are able to recognize symptoms of complications earlier, enabling them to seek treatment before readmission becomes necessary. 

By recording symptoms, behaviors, and other biometrics, patients can alert providers through that data that they are off track with their expected outcomes. This allows physicians and staff to monitor data remotely and intervene when needed. This coordinated effort between patients and providers can dramatically improve outcomes.

Integrated care delivery platforms, like those offered by Wellbe, help providers use data in a more meaningful way. Using enhanced performance insights, providers can make evidence-based recommendations more easily, and patients can navigate their surgical experience seamlessly.

bariatric nurse entering patient data into personalized care automation tool

6. Invest in Digital Solutions

Personalized digital platforms have become essential components within the continuum of care. In fact, patients have come to expect having access to online tools.

77.8% of bariatric patients want to use digital tools to navigate their journey, including booking appointments, uploading insurance, educating at their own pace, and monitoring their recovery process.

Personalized care automation tools help patients become more actively engaged in their care, while also easing staffing burdens, streamlining workflows, and capturing real-time data.

By allowing patients to manage time-intensive tasks like scheduling, rescheduling, and billing, resources can be shifted elsewhere.

Equipped with comprehensive digital tools, providers can efficiently monitor a larger number of patients. This frictionless online experience also drives patient satisfaction.

Hospitals that invest in digital solutions differentiate themselves in the marketplace. Using technology to simplify the surgical experience for both patients and providers makes it easy to balance spending with quality care.

Helping Hospitals Lower Costs of Bariatric Surgery

Engaging patients throughout their surgical journey is a patient-centered approach that leads to lower costs and better outcomes. Bariatric journey improvements can be integrated into existing process improvement roadmaps.

Personalized care automation tools support providers and health care organizations in delivering high-quality care in a way that maximizes patient satisfaction.

Wellbe’s personalized care automation tools makes it easier for hospitals to manage costs associated with bariatric surgery – without compromising the quality of care.

Learn more about how Wellbe’s digital solutions can support your organization and leverage technology to reduce costs.