Missing the mark on care management? Renew your focus on patient loyalty

As clinical staff, we all want what’s best for our patients. Care management is meant to improve patient care and help patients and families learn to manage conditions in a way that will ideally lessen the need for future medical intervention. It’s a worthy goal, but the traditional approach to care management is rife with missed opportunities.

In my experience as a critical care nurse, I’ve observed three main issues with traditional care management as it stands today:

1. Inpatient solutions often don’t extend to other care settings

Consider a patient who’s just completed an acute care stay and is being discharged to go home. Normally, the physician team rounds and writes a discharge order. Then the responsibility lies with the nursing team to complete a laundry list of items before the patient leaves.

The inherent challenge in this situation is to have this transition be smooth, without causing the staff or patient any additional, unneeded stress. From a clinical staff standpoint, however, this crucial moment to educate and plan is often rushed and just barely completed.

Without a patient engagement solution to guide a patient from procedure to discharge, and even out into other care settings, the inpatient care management effort gets lost when the patient walks out the door.

2. Traditional portals miss the mark

Another missed opportunity inherent in traditional care management is the ability to pull the patient’s care together into a cohesive narrative and database. Access to Electronic Health Record portals can provide engaged patients with a way to be informed, but the portals differ from system to system.

I myself have a portal for primary care, a portal for my children’s health and a portal for specialty areas like cardiology. None of these portals are connected. This leads me to assume a passive role in my care: essentially, I “sit back” and wait for a clinician to point out any red flags.

As a critical care nurse with a decade of experience in different health systems, this is certainly not my preferred way of managing my health! However, nothing about the technological solutions currently being presented drive me to be actively engaged with my health. Like I said — a missed opportunity.

Without patients actively engaging in their health, traditional care management will continue to exist as a stopgap measure without effectively empowering patients to take charge (and get ahead of) their own care.

3. Consumers want convenience

There’s a third concern when it comes to traditional care management. Simply put, it’s just not convenient. What do I mean by that? In today’s fast-paced world, consumers are looking for products and processes to make their lives more convenient. And if they find a tool that does? They’ll return, again and again.

The bottom line is that consumers want convenience, whether that’s in their daily lives on their smartphones or in their healthcare journey. Make it easy for them by offering a one-stop shop that provides trusted education, tools for monitoring their health and services to connect or schedule a visit with their care providers across all care settings.

Healthcare systems aching for patient retention should take note: providing the same level of convenience and amenities as, say, a consumer app (think Amazon, Uber, Google and Lyft) will bring patient loyalty in its wake.

Patient engagement is the solution

Uber is all well and good for consumers looking to hitch a quick ride, but what does this mean for healthcare? Here’s where patient engagement tools like the suite of GetWellNetwork solutions come in.

Imagine the patient from before — in an inpatient setting, post-procedure, working towards discharge. Imagine the patient’s family, full of questions. What do they truly need from clinicians and nursing staff at this crucial moment? What if we could provide them with opportunities outside the hospital, addressing their needs before they even know they have them?

What if…?

  • They need a bedside commode for when they return home?
    • Here’s how to order one.
  • They need prescriptions to be filled post-procedure?
    • Here’s a convenient pharmacy, on-site, and medications can be delivered directly to their room.
  • They need information on a newly diagnosed condition?
    • Here’s high-quality, evidence-based education delivered to the device of their choice.

It’s all about cross-promoting services based on what we know about the patient and who they are. By anticipating their needs, we build patient loyalty and treat them just as the consumer apps they rely on do.

Use patient engagement to keep patients in-network

Patient engagement solutions can take this symbiotic relationship even further. A patient may be at a health system for an elective procedure, for example. However, if the demographics indicate they are due for a mammogram, a patient engagement tool can help them schedule the exam right in the same health system.

It’s convenient for the patient and guarantees additional revenue and retention for the health system. What’s not to like?

The bottom line

The value of a digital solution cannot be understated. Historically, and for good reason, health systems have focused on improving or targeting HCAHPS and readmissions, and decreasing average length of stay. However, this is starting to shift, all based on consumer demand. Whether it’s Uber, Amazon or healthcare, consumers want their experiences to be very much in line with their everyday lives — fast, convenient, readily accessible.

For progressive health systems looking to increase patient loyalty, the goal must be a seamless experience. Make it something patients can tap into anywhere, at any point, along any health journey. When they get the ease and consistency they want, it further increases loyalty and the cycle repeats. That keeps patients in your system, and satisfied with their care — and isn’t that what clinical staff wants?