Engage Early and Engage Often, LVM Systems: Reducing Readmissions & Educating Patients and Caregivers
Much talk of late has centered on the importance of post-discharge follow-up. Often, these discussions focus on the financial implications of managing frequent readmissions. In addition, patient satisfaction remains a key factor in the health provider’s overall rating. Working with several of its clients, LVM identified the need for a comprehensive discharge management program and teamed with ORCAS, a leader in disease management and patient educational materials, to create just such a program.
Once Is Not Enough: Today, the one-time follow-up call to verify the patient is “okay” and satisfied with the care received only addresses the tip of the iceberg regarding the patient’s overall health. It’s no longer enough to simply call the next day to ask the patient how they are doing. These calls, like much of healthcare, require far greater specialization. Instead, what is needed is a series of well-scripted calls asking investigative questions designed to ascertain the patient’s actual status and provide earlier interventions, as appropriate.
LVM realized the ever-increasing importance of the caregiver’s role in the patient’s recovery. ORCAS provided a quality solution to support caregivers by developing a motivational coaching program specifically aimed at both patients and their caregivers. Since this type of coaching is not typically something call center staff perform when speaking with patients over the phone, ORCAS developed a complete online educational series on motivation.
This program is available not only to call center staff but also to all care coordinators involved in the readmissions reduction program. Realizing the importance of the caregiver’s positive mindset, the objective of this program is to supply the care coordinators and call center staff with the skills needed to equip caregivers with the resources they need to remain supportive.
An Open Relationship Is Needed: But let’s take a step back and look at where this process needs to begin. In order to create a relationship in which the patient and caregiver are open to sharing, LVM recommends a face-to-face pre-discharge meeting between the care coordinator, the patient, and their caregiver.
This is the time to assure patients and their caregiver that they are not alone in their post-discharge challenges and establish a point of contact for any unexpected issues. The caregiver also needs to know that they have an ally to help them answer any post-discharge questions. It is also an ideal time to review discharge materials, schedule a follow-up appointment with the primary care physician or specialist, and ensure that both the patient and caregiver understand the next steps.
LVM has found through working with its network of hundreds of hospital clients that it is not enough to simply focus on the patients’ needs. All too often, elderly patients have elderly caregivers. Whether a spouse or old friend, the struggles of caring for the frail elderly are often more than the caregiver can manage. Through use of the ORCAS Motivational program and LVM’s Centaurus Call Center software, care coordinators and call center staff have the tools they need to truly make a difference.
Four Components: LVM has spent the past three years looking at ways to improve patient/caregiver understanding and compliance with discharge instructions in an effort to reduce patient readmissions. To be successful requires coordination of four key components: the hospital care coordinator, discharge instructions and materials, the hospital call center, and the patient/caregiver. Let’s look at each of these.
Hospital Care Coordinator: First, the hospital care coordinator is critical to initially establishing a personal relationship with the patient. From the time the patient is admitted until they leave the hospital, the care coordinator is the safety net for the patient.
Discharge Instructions and Materials: Second, easy-to-read discharge instructions – ideally at a third grade level – that are consistent and simple to understand have a significant impact on post-discharge compliance. How often have patients been sent home with discharge instructions that directly contradict or at least fail to consider the patient’s existing medical care? For example, cases involving the patient being sent home with a prescription for Coumadin only to already be taking Warfarin. Not knowing any better, the patient takes both with potentially critical outcomes.
Call Center: But what is the connection to the call center? Some hospitals have weighed the rewards and costs of running their call center in-house versus outsourced. Even if you outsource your standard triage and marketing calls, LVM recommends that the outbound follow-up calls be conducted by the care coordinators or by staff working closely with the care coordinators, ideally housed in the call center.
Patient/Caregiver: LVM’s Centaurus, when used with the ORCAS patient care content and caregiver motivational program, represents a significant tool for reducing readmissions, but, more importantly, for maintaining the health and well-being of patients by providing a means for follow-up, complaint resolution, outcomes tracking, and flexibility in the scripting tools.
Conclusion: Companies like LVM have committed themselves to addressing the health of our country by equipping hospitals, physicians, and other healthcare providers with tools aimed at improving overall health. Hospitals using the LVM/ORCAS solution should see greatly reduced readmissions and, more importantly, an increase in the general health of their communities.
LVM Systems is a leading call center software solutions vendor based in Mesa, AZ. For the past 25 years, LVM has exclusively served the healthcare call center industry. With products ranging from full-service, installed call center solutions, to physician office triage programs, to Web-based consumer-focused self-triage tools. With hundreds of clients worldwide, LVM is uniquely qualified to identify and resolve your call center needs.
ORCAS is a healthcare technology company that creates self-management products to improve physical and emotional well-being. They are well known for their behavior modification content and motivational strategies for the patient, as well as addressing the needs of the caregiver. Their post-discharge program referenced herein is called “Release with Care.”
[From the June/July 2013 issue of AnswerStat magazine]