Leveraging various patient enablement strategies to improve surgical outcomes in your practice is important for many reasons.
Each year, U.S. patients undergo around 20 million invasive surgeries. While most turn out fine, complications routinely occur.
In fact, certain post-op conditions such as deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism are more common in the U.S. than in comparable countries.
In addition to their adverse health effects, surgical complications increase costs by around $20,000 per admission and prolong hospital stays by 9.7 days.
Even without complications, major surgeries take a toll on patients’ quality of life. For instance, this 2021 study found that pre-op cancer patients generally expect a better quality of life than they experienced resulting from surgery.
What does all of that mean for you?
Simply that better surgical outcomes can improve patient health and quality of life, reduce operational costs, and help you grow your business by freeing up resources to pursue new revenue opportunities.
To learn how to achieve better surgical outcomes, keep reading.
- Enabling patients to engage in their care paths is critical for ensuring that they are prepared for surgery.
- In turn, this helps improve surgical outcomes and reduces the strain on the healthcare system.
- Strategies for improving surgical outcomes through patient enablement include adopting a patient-centered care model, developing a preoperative preparedness program, building a surgical culture focused on safety and quality, collecting and analyzing surgical outcome and cost data, and investing in care automation software.
5 Effective Strategies to Empower Patients and Improve Surgical Outcomes
Here are five tried-and-tested ways to get your patients to step up:
1. Adopt a Patient-Centered, Team-Based Surgical Care Model
In its latest Optimal Resources for Surgical Quality and Safety manual, the American College of Surgeons (ACS) recommends a care model that they believe delivers the best surgical outcomes, highest patient satisfaction, and lowest costs.
The ACS-endorsed model is patient-centered, physician-led, and team-based. The goal is to provide coordinated care by various health professionals working together as a team, including:
- Specialty physicians
This collaborative and multidisciplinary approach to care should be present during all stages of a surgical episode, from preoperative evaluation and preparation to postoperative discharge.
At every phase of the process, the healthcare team should educate, engage, and empower patients. Clear communication, shared decision-making, risk-based informed consent, and careful alignment of expectations are key in this regard.
2. Develop a Robust Patient Preparedness Program
Preoperative preparation programs can be highly effective at improving surgical outcomes and optimizing healthcare resources.
One such initiative – the Michigan Surgical Home and Optimization Program (MSHOP) – shortened post-op stays by 2.3 days, lowered costs by $2,308 and increased expected revenue by $2,518 per patient.
Pre-Op programs serve two main functions.
On the one hand, they empower patients by providing them with information about their condition and care path, enabling them to make educated choices.
On the other hand, pre-op programs give patients something to do that can help improve their surgical outcomes while awaiting surgery. Instead of being passive recipients of treatment, they become active participants in their journeys and partners of their healthcare providers. Examples include:
- Quitting or cutting back on smoking
- Improving their physical fitness through exercise
- Improving their nutrition and controlling their glycemic index
- Practicing relaxation techniques and breathing exercises to reduce anxiety and increase lung capacity
- Using antibacterial cleansers preoperatively to reduce the risk of infections
- Learning about pain management and postoperative best practices
3. Build a Culture Focused on Safety, Quality, and Reliability
Creating a culture of patient safety and positioning your facility as a high-reliability organization (HRO) is vital for improving surgical outcomes. If patients trust you, they may be more willing to play an active role in their treatment.
Key characteristics of an HRO include:
- Deference to expertise
- Commitment to resilience
- Sensitivity to operations
- Willingness to analyze and learn from failure
- Low tolerance for simplified interpretations
To build an authentic culture of patient safety, you may also need to tackle common barriers such as long-established hierarchies, siloed departments and disciplines that do not coordinate effectively, and accepted deviances from standard best practices.
4. Invest in Personalized Care Automation Software
Care automation platforms provide patients with an integrated care package and a host of tools to engage meaningfully in their journey to and post-surgery. Features vary across providers and can include:
- Vetted educational materials
- Tailored journeys
- Telehealth and virtual visits
- Easy access to patient information such as medical records or lab results
- The ability to connect with healthcare providers to ask questions, exchange insight, and address potential concerns
- An automated guided workflow that channels care events into a coordinated, easy-to-follow sequence
- Remote monitoring technology for post-discharge surveillance
A high-quality care automation solution can be hard to beat when educating and engaging patients, boosting satisfaction, and keeping costs down.
5. Analyze Data to Drive Improvements in Surgical Outcomes
Collecting, analyzing, and reporting surgical outcome and cost data is essential to improving the safety and quality of surgical care. High-quality data can help you to:
- Identify areas of concern
- Conduct data-driven case and peer reviews
- Set measurable goals
- Track your progress
- Benchmark performance against established leaders in the field
To that end, you can use your healthcare organization’s clinical registries, data collected through care automation solutions, as well as regional and national databases.
Improve Your Surgical Outcomes and Boost Growth with Wellbe
If you are looking for an affordable, accessible, and effective way to achieve better surgical outcomes, consider Wellbe’s personalized care automation platform.
Its guided workflow, intuitive design, and approachable language remove confusion and empower patients to become active participants in their road to recovery. They can use the platform from the comfort of their own home and on their own time.
In the meantime, you get to unlock the potential of patient partnerships, collect a wealth of high-quality data about their journeys, reduce costs, and grow your business without adding to your headcount.