Start by Identifying the Challenges Patients Typically Face

Orthopedic surgeries are significant procedures for many patients. Without proper preparation, guidance through the perioperative phase and careful attention to recovery after surgery, both the patient experience and clinical outcomes can suffer.

To get ahead of potential barriers to success, start by identifying the challenges:

Inadequate preparation. Patients need to prepare both physically and emotionally. They must also have realistic expectations – patients typically underestimate pain, recovery timelines, and the importance of physical therapy if these details are not repeated early and often. Patients who do not complete prehabilitation, who are not empowered to navigate the logistics, and who do not understand what to expect throughout the recovery process will likely have a negative experience.

Day of surgery challenges. The most common reason for late cancelation of orthopedic procedures is that the patient is deemed medically unsuitable for surgery by the anaesthetist; other causes include late arrivals and patient decision. If patients haven’t followed the pre-operative work-up or instructions, the procedure may have to be rescheduled, leading to delayed repair and prolonged suffering.

Difficult, prolonged recovery. To optimize recovery from an orthopedic procedure, the patient must be an active participant. If they are experiencing high levels of anxiety, unmanaged pain, or refuse physical therapy, they may never realize their full recovery potential, nor will they be satisfied with their experience.

3 Strategies to Improve Patient Experiences and Outcomes With Proactive Engagement

These surgical challenges can be mitigated with a comprehensive engagement strategy that empowers your patients with information and gives care team members confidence their patients are recovering normally:

Set expectations leading up to surgery. An important part of one successful Total Joint Replacement program has been educating patients to ensure they understand the recovery process, what to anticipate regarding pain after joint surgeries, and how to manage it. Automating much of that education enables delivery to a much wider population. Combining that educational content with step by step guidance before surgery also ensures patients are properly prepared, which reduces late cancelations, disrupted surgical schedules, and gets patients the intervention they need in a timely fashion. Read the case study here.

Automate communication to coincide with the journey. Sending messages and prompts in conjunction with significant points of a surgical episode gives patients the information they need and avoids complications afterward. One orthopedic surgeon told us, “The automated communication pathways have fostered a shorter length of stay, while also reducing readmissions by supporting patients as they recover at home. The ability to safely manage surgical patients post-discharge reduces costs, increases patient satisfaction, and has been particularly valuable amidst COVID-19.” Read the case study here.

Stay connected after surgery to support safe recovery. Sending patients information is just as important as the patient’s ability to send information back to their provider. Whether it’s reporting their pain level or sending an image of the incision site, this bi-directional communication ensures the care team knows what’s happening, they can intervene early if needed, and the patient doesn’t feel alone. As one clinical nurse coordinator commented, “The automated delivery of routine education and reminders has allowed our practice to quickly identify and manage patient care issues.” And patients agree. One respondent to a Twistle survey included this note, “Loved receiving these text messages. They answered a lot of the questions I had written down for the doctor.” 

Keep your patients on track with their care plan

Leverage best practices for patient communication to deliver the right coaching, education and support throughout procedure-specific care journeys.

Optimizing the Journey With Resources and Support

Most patients are unfamiliar with the surgical process and the unknown can be scary. The patient’s anxiety and lack of preparation can be unnerving for the care team. Use patient engagement technology to close gaps in care and improve care plan adherence. A digital, bi-directional communication tool that delivers a series of instructions and coaching throughout the entire episode of care. These care pathways provide guidance, education and comfort to patients, and gives the care team confidence that patients are successfully navigating their surgery and then recovering safely at home.

If you want to shorten length of stay, reduce readmissions, reduce phone calls and improve patient satisfaction – we, contact Twistle at info@twistle.com.

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