The American Organization for Nursing Leadership (AONL) 2022 Annual Conference in San Antonio features an excellent lineup of healthcare leaders. Topics included mental health and well-being, health equity, the impact of the pandemic, and advancing patient engagement.

During one session Indiana University Health​ (IUH) leaders Ammie Dillon, BS-HA​ and Angela Cromlich, MSN, RN-BC​ shared how they are engaging patients and caregivers in new and creative ways. The session titled, “How to Drive Innovation Using Secure Patient Messaging,” highlighted how text-based communication pathways can have a positive impact on any health journey – especially when it’s flexible, configurable, and bi-directional.

Goals and Drivers

When IUH began its patient engagement journey, it identified these goals and the drivers of its new initiative:

  • Standardize and streamline care to improve outcomes ​
  • Foster a more patient-centered care ​
  • Align and integrate existing tools like patient education
  • Reduce the cost of care​ to patients

Leveraging Patient Engagement Technology

With these goals front and center, IUH identified the opportunity to leverage its patient engagement  platform. This technology, which is integrated with their EHR, enables clinical pathways to be triggered depending on clinical information – including appointments, orders, and test results. Patients are automatically prompted to enroll, which reduces the administrative burden for the care team. The standardized clinical pathways ensure patients receive the right information at the right time. The platform is also bi-directional so patient questions can be routed to appropriate staff members and quickly addressed, which creates a high-quality patient experience.

IUH started with four standard use cases including surgery, referral management, patient-reported outcome measures, and discharge follow-up. They saw positive results including 29% decrease in call volume and 53% reduction in ED visits for patients enrolled in the Orthopedic Total Hip and Knee Joint Replacement Pathway. They also found patients loved being able to send photos if they had a concern and not have to come into the clinic.

These applications reduced administrative burdens, enabled robust data collection, and improved patient experiences – both pre-surgery and post-discharge so IUH began to think about innovative use cases that could also deliver significant value.

IUH’s technology platform was not originally intended for inpatient use, but they saw a creative application that could improve the experience for families with a child in the newborn intensive care unit (NICU). By using the secure messaging platform, IUH now sends parents information earlier and education that they can review before arriving at the hospital and revisit it whenever they would like to. This helps ensure discharges are not delayed and parents feel well prepared to bring their newborn home.

IUH also deployed the technology in their COVID-19 response efforts. They automated the delivery of test results, so that staff and patients knew their status as soon as possible. For those testing positive, they sent care instructions including quarantine guidelines and symptom management, links to resources, and team member daily check-ins. This allowed them to manage thousands of staff and community members impacted by COVID​ without adding an extra burden to their staff workload.

They are using the secure messaging platform for behavioral health and postpartum hypertension as well. IUH collects assessments and data that then flows seamlessly into the EHR. This helps the care team have a better understanding of what’s happening with patients between visits, identify issues early for proactive intervention, and make in-person visits more meaningful.

The patient response has been very positive – they find the communication method convenient, and it creates a closer connection with the care team. IUH has found that the automated clinical pathways are also helping them deliver more consistent care​ and reduce disparities. They are seeing reduced readmissions, phone call volumes, appointment no shows, and resource burden and are continuing to look for new ways the platform can be used to improve both staff and patient satisfaction.

To learn more how Twistle by Health Catalyst can help power your patient engagement strategy, contact us today!