Enhancing the Outpatient Joint Replacement Experience Through Patient Engagement

Just a few years ago, performing total joint replacements in the outpatient setting was a niche procedure being done successfully at only a handful of facilities throughout the country. With the advancements in technology, pain management and surgical technique, the procedures have grown significantly and will only continue to grow. In fact, one projection from Sg2 is anticipating a 265% increase in outpatient knee and hip replacement volume over the next five years.

With numerous innovations and advancements breaking the mold of the traditional joint replacement model of care, many practitioners have begun asking, why are we still using the traditional “old school” methods of educating these patients? Simply providing print materials and an on-site class before sending the patient off to prepare on their own is not enough. To truly be successful, patients need to be engaged and educated early and often, and throughout the entire episode of care.

Interactive, online programs can engage the patient up to 30 days prior to procedure and manage their transition and recovery for 90 days post-discharge. Patients are accountable to complete the educational, home preparation, rehabilitation and symptomatic requirements, and activity can be tracked. These types of programs empower the patient by providing the appropriate education, communication, and coordination that makes them feel more prepared and connected. As a result, this creates more touch points between patients and providers leading to improved patient satisfaction, outcomes and cost of care.

If your practice is currently performing or looking to add outpatient joint replacement to your ambulatory surgery center (ASC) or hospital, it’s time to advance your patient education and engagement tactics.

Here are the nine reasons a patient engagement program will benefit your organization:

  1. The absence of inpatient stays translates to fewer touch points between surgery and discharge to prepare a patient to go home. Patients are leaving the ASC the same day, often nervous or under some level of sedation. Therefore, whatever is communicated to them on the day of surgery may not be fully comprehended.
  2. There are fewer educational resources at the ASC as compared to the hospital setting. By their nature, ASC’s are built to be leaner with fewer staff available to provide education. Shifting this burden from a staff member to an online program gives staff more time for hands- on care.
  3. A comprehensive patient engagement program helps eliminate questions directed back to the office. Having the full episode-of-care captured in an online program allows patients to have nearly all the answers at their fingertips. An effective program should be driven by a proactive platform that helps manage much of this interaction.
  4. The outpatient joint replacement procedure is still relatively new and not available in all markets, so practices may be capturing from a larger geographic area. Online engagement tools allow patients to spend their time educating themselves from home to ensure they are getting everything they need regardless of the distance from your ASC.
  5. Outpatient joint replacement is still only being reimbursed by private payors. For this reason it still tends to attract younger and busier working patients. These folks often don’t have time for multiple or long visits to the office. Engaging them remotely and online frees them up and provides greater flexibility.
  6. Patients need to be physically prepared prior to and after surgery and often are prescribed a routine of exercises. Typically, the physician has no way of knowing if the patient is actually following the prescribed regimen. Well-designed programs should provide needed accountability by showing the patient how to do the exercises, reminding them when they need to be done and alerting them if they forget to log their exercises.
  7. Best-in-class programs support the “new model of care” mindset. Outpatient joint replacement is still revolutionary in the mind of the market, and the way patients are prepared and educated should be just as cutting edge
  8. Newer procedures like this often have requirements to demonstrate efficacy in order to get the reimbursement approved, including positive outcomes and satisfaction data. Effective programs track a patient’s progress and build in the required patient reporting throughout the full episode of care to support these requirements.
  9. For many of the reasons previously stated, online patient engagement and education increases efficiency and economic improvement. By utilizing fewer resources, identifying and preventing unnecessary admissions before they happen, and improving patient outcomes, the needle will move on all the measures a practice uses to gauge success.

Growth in outpatient joint replacement is a certainty and having a scalable way to reach patients to ensure they are prepared and educated will be critical. If your practice is planning to support this model of care, our team wants to support you and the patients that you will serve.

For more information about VOX Telehealth and its orthopedic platform, the OrthoCare Program, please contact info@voxtelehealth.com.

About the Author

Philip Feldstein is Director of Ortho Solutions at VOX Telehealth and brings more than 10 years of experience in orthopedic service line management. Throughout his career, Phil has worked with more than 100 hospitals, physician groups, and other outpatient ancillary service providers to develop strategies for optimizing care, while balancing the financial and volume growth. Phil has held senior roles in marketing strategy and business development in numerous leading orthopedic organizations. Phil earned a BA from Indiana University and an MBA from the University of Illinois in Chicago.

About VOX Telehealth

VOX Telehealth was founded to improve patient outcomes by redefining the patient experience and recovery model. Through a state-of-the art platform, VOX delivers procedure-specific, full episode-of-care engagement solutions that provide education, coordination, and monitoring through industry leading content, proprietary SmartTasks™ and a customizable alert escalation and notification system. Engaging the patient throughout their pre-op phase, as well as through transition of care and recovery, patients are connected and accountable, leading to greater satisfaction, improved outcomes, and reduced cost of care. For more information, visit www.voxtelehealth.com.

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