How to Use Patient Data to Improve Outcomes
Today’s hospitals are more high tech than ever — from EHRs designed to better manage patient health records to robotic systems to assist surgery. But despite the improved IT and more than a decade of focus on improving patient safety, the latest statistics on medical mistakes show that hospitals still have work to do.
According to the Boston Globe, the number of serious medical errors and patient injuries in both acute care hospitals and psychiatric or rehabilitative care facilities across Massachusetts, in particular, jumped significantly between 2012 and 2013. While some of the increase — a rise of 60 to 70 percent depending on the type of facility — may be attributed to new reporting requirements, including broader definitions of reportable incidents and a computerized system, clearly hospitals must take more steps to limit medical errors.
Still, improving patient outcomes also requires active partnership with the patients themselves. Healthcare providers must find ways to encourage patients to take ownership of their health.
Massachusetts is Not Alone
Across the country, hospitals are facing similar challenges. The Boston Globe article points out that the focus on eliminating patient harm began after the Institute of Medicine released a report in 1999 showing that “tens of thousands of patients die each year because of preventable medical errors.” Since then, organizations from the National Patient Safety Foundation to the smallest hospital have worked to get a handle on the root causes of the issue.
Even as hospitals reduce hazards, implement safety-focused checklists and share best practices, they must accommodate a growing number of patients while enduring cost cuts. Dr. Allan Frankel, chief medical officer of Safe & Reliable Healthcare in Colorado, has noted that, “when you think about what the hospitals are dealing with, reducing adverse events is incredibly complicated.”
Patient Engagement is Critical
In addition to treating the sick, healthcare providers also focus on prevention, helping healthier consumers manage wellness.
Higher levels of patient engagement — both outside the hospital and within it — will go a long way towards improving patient outcomes.
In an H&HN Magazine article about technology and patient engagement, Chanin Wendling, the director of eHealth at Geisinger Health System, notes, “Where we struggle as a health care industry is adapting the important care protocols to how patients live their lives. Certain patients are more responsive than others. Some people learn in different ways. Some like technology; some prefer the personal touch. We as an industry need to better embrace that because, ultimately, you need the patient to take the action.”
Ms. Wendling is absolutely correct. Patients are not all motivated by the same things and have varied preferences when it comes to learning. c2b solutions has found five distinct psychographic segments among consumers in how they approach health and wellness and this has profound implications on effective patient engagement.
This includes reaching out to consumers before they become patients.
During September, many healthcare providers observe National Prostate Cancer Awareness month. According to American Cancer Society estimates that:
- 1 man in 7 will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime.
- This year, 233,000 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer.
- 29,480 men will die of prostate cancer in 2014.
While rates of surviving prostate cancer are high — over 2.5 million men who received prostate cancer diagnoses in the past are still alive today — early engagement is critical. This is particularly true for African-American men who are more likely to be diagnosed with advanced stage prostate cancer and are twice as likely die from it. How can hospitals reach out effectively to encourage men to take charge of their health?
Five Steps to Improve Patient Outreach
Using healthcare consumer insights, data and consumer segmentation, c2b solutions recommends a step-by-step approach:
- Define your goal — whether it is motivating behavior change or acquiring and keeping patients.
- Identify the consumer segments you want to target.
- Determine the focus of your message.
- Develop messaging that is fine tuned to address the differing needs of the various consumer segments you wish to address.
- Share your messages via the most effective media channels and education vehicles to influence consumers.
With more effective approaches to patient engagement, healthcare providers can take the most important step towards improving patient outcomes — keeping consumers healthier. Contact c2b solutions to learn how our approach can help you communicate more effectively with consumers.