It has never been more critical for orthopedic practices to work toward ensuring a better patient experience.
Orthopedic surgeons today face many challenges, including:
- An uncertain economy
- A saturated healthcare industry
- The advent of non-surgical treatment alternatives
- Rising implant costs
- Few insurance-reimbursed therapies
- Increasing demands and delays with prior authorization by insurance companies
To stay relevant in the face of growing competition, orthopedic practices should embrace new, resilient business models that center on patient enablement and improving the patient experience.
This is not just wishful thinking. A growing body of research indicates a strong correlation between increased patient satisfaction and higher surgical volumes.
For instance, according to this 2020 study, orthopedic oncology patients are more likely to recommend attending physicians who are friendly, courteous, sensitive to patients’ needs, and provide good instructions for follow-up care. The same applies to practices with clean premises and polite staff.
With this in mind, let us explore nine strategies that help ensure a better patient experience, improve health outcomes, and boost your bottom line.
- Orthopedic patients often face pain, discomfort, disruptions to their daily routines, and uncertainty. This is in addition to what can often be steep financial costs.
- Fortunately, there are tactics you can leverage to improve your patients’ experiences – and, incidentally, your bottom line.
- It all starts with physician awareness and education and staying up to speed on recommended best practices.
- Other strategies include carefully managing patient expectations, providing open omnichannel communication, improving pain management, delivering patient-centric multidisciplinary care, and implementing patient-reported outcome measures.
- You should also consider investing in automated patient enablement solutions, a cloud-based software application that guides patients through their care journeys using automated workflows.
The following steps can help improve your patients’ experiences, boost satisfaction rates, and result in better health outcomes:
1. Invest in Physician Awareness and Education
Better patient experiences start with provider education. To that end, make sure that both you and your team are up to speed on recommended best practices, take part in regular bedside manner training, and have access to up-to-date information and research.
2. Manage Patient Expectations
Proper management of postoperative expectations is crucial to ensuring a good patient experience. You should provide patients with relevant and easy-to-understand information in manageable portions way ahead of their surgery. Be available to answer questions and be clear on the realistic prospects of the proposed procedure.
3. Implement Open, Omnichannel Communication
Provider-patient communication should always be two-way. Studies indicate an association between shared decision-making and a reduction in healthcare complaints.
Ask open-ended questions and encourage patients to pose questions themselves, share their concerns, and clarify their needs – whether in person, over the phone, via email, teleconference, or text messaging.
Pay special attention to written communication as well. Even when patients initially retain the information you provide during consultations, recollection tends to decline over time. This is why you want to ensure that patients can reference free vetted resources, both digital and paper-based, relevant to their specific health concerns and treatment plans. Examples include:
- Take-home pamphlets
- Physical aids such as 3D models
- Trusted online resources
4. Improve Pre- and Postoperative Pain Management
Post-surgery pain is often patients’ greatest fear. Developing robust pain management protocols and communicating a clear action plan can help alleviate such concerns and increase patient preparedness. Open communication with patients throughout their care journeys, both before and after surgery, is essential. This would include ensuring patients know what pain to expect, what is normal, and when they should contact the doctor.
5. Provide Multidisciplinary Patient-Centric Care
Treatments should center on a team-based approach involving multidisciplinary medical professionals – including nurses, residents, physician assistants, and pain specialists – working together toward a better patient experience. The patient and their needs should be a paramount consideration at all times.
6. Use Patient-Completed Outcomes Measures
Patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs) are standardized surveys that enable patients to share valuable insights about their postoperative experiences. By leveraging PROMs, you can:
- Boost patient engagement
- Improve patient-provider communication
- Gauge the effectiveness of interventions
- Personalize and fine-tune postop treatment plans
- Identify opportunities for improvement
- Detect complications earlier
- Reduce costs
If you need help designing your PROMs, consult the guidelines of the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).
7. Consider Minimally Invasive Surgery
Where possible, always opt for minimally or less invasive treatments. This can help limit surgical trauma, reduce costs, and shorten hospital stays, resulting in a better patient experience overall.
8. Lead with Empathy and Compassion
Patients undergoing orthopedic treatments often face pain, discomfort, disruptions to their daily routines, and considerable uncertainty. The associated financial costs can be steep for many as well. Approaching patients and their many concerns with empathy and compassion are crucial to improving their experiences, building trust, and ensuring better health and surgical outcomes.
9. Empower and Prepare Patients Using Guided Automation Solutions
Personalized automation platforms are cloud-based applications that guide patients step by step through their healthcare journeys. The user-friendly interface delivers the right information at the right time in small bites without overwhelming the patient, providing them with features such as:
- Health education
- Insurance information
- Pre- and postop instructions
- Automatic reminders
- Electronic self-assessment
- Follow-up capabilities
- PROMs collection
- Online consult requests
This enables patients to access the information they need in their own time, connect with providers via multiple channels, and feel more in control of their health journeys. They evolve from passive recipients of treatments and procedures into active participants working in partnership with their care team.
Design a Better Patient Experience with Wellbe
Until recently, it was impossible to improve care delivery without hiring more staff or increasing your work hours.
Wellbe’s ConnectedCare™ platform features a powerful automated workflow that streamlines care delivery and radically improves the patient experience.
The numbers speak for themselves: Over 95% of post-surgery patients report that they feel more prepared, capable, and confident after using our personalized care automation solutions.
Better patient satisfaction rates translate into bigger surgical volumes and higher revenue – all without adding to your headcount or investing a small fortune in workflow optimization.
Learn more about how Wellbe’s personalized care automation solutions can transform your orthopedic practice.