Connected Care: 3 Surprising Patient Safety Pluses
From MedCityNews.com November 10, 2014 This post is sponsored by Vree Health, LLC.
By Stephen M. Hoelper, MBA, M.S., CPHIMS, Founder, VP of Marketing & Strategy, Vree Health, LLC
When a patient is suddenly sick, the healthcare system needs to be at its best. But often, it’s at its worst – at least when it comes to sharing information.
Acute events are a struggle for providers. Too often, hospitals don’t know if a patient is getting the right follow-up care and the primary physician doesn’t know what medication the hospital prescribed. Home care organizations may not know which physician to contact for orders.
It’s not just about better communication. It comes down to safety.
Connected care is a better safety net. It’s about electronic sharing of necessary information, timely patient follow-up and allowing everyone involved in the patient’s care and whom the patient authorizes to share a single care plan.
There are, however, some additional patient safety pluses that you may not have considered:
- Medication transparency: Connected care allows all providers to see what medications the patient is taking and enables everyone involved in the patient’s care to proactively perform medication reconciliation during care transitions. This helps reduce the risk of duplication of medications or adverse drug interactions.
- Early detection of potential adverse events: If providers are able to look at a patient’s care plan and see information from the patient on how he or she is progressing over a certain period of time, they can quickly evaluate each case. They can see red flags or factors in the patient’s condition that fall outside of desired ranges.For example, if the patient is diabetic and consistently has a fasting blood sugar of more than 130, they can take steps to intervene. It may be that the patient needs additional education. Or it could be that he or she is just not following the diet plan. Or perhaps a medication adjustment is required. Connected care can help get at the root of the problem so providers will know how to help.
- Answering patient questions in real time: The ability to answer questions in real time gives providers a higher likelihood of offering help before something serious occurs.
For example, a patient with end-stage renal disease may have a slight fever or have questions about the care plan, but may not immediately seek follow-up care. In that case, one missed appointment can be life threatening. Connected care can help quickly get the person to the right medical professional who can answer questions or urge the patient to see his or her physician or go to the hospital.
Something that has worked well for us at Vree Health is assigning each patient a care liaison-a non-medical professional who specializes in helping patients set and meet goals. Care liaisons check in with patients regularly during the initial 30 days after discharge to conduct health checks. This allows the liaison to develop a relationship with the patient through whatever type of technology the patient prefers. In turn the patient is more likely to be open, honest and forthright because of that relationship. Through the established health checks, liaisons are able to identify red flags and escalate any potential concerns to medical professionals in real time.
Care liaisons also do a 30-day follow-up to see how the patient is doing with the care plan. The liaisons do a great job of getting at issues that might otherwise be overlooked.
Connected care isn’t just about connecting stakeholders to each other. It’s about delivering better –and safer – care by making those connections work.