Upcoming Trends in Health Education
Western Pennsylvania Hospital News – December 2011
Today’s healthcare technology and education is being brought to you digitally, in high definition and in multiple languages, with interactive features that help promote cost savings, improve patient outcomes, enhance quality and reduce readmissions, while paving the way for increased “meaningful use” criteria and new quality and reimbursement incentives now being designed.
If you’re a patient, you can confirm via interactive messaging that you received information vital to your condition and recovery, and take a simple test so your medical team knows you’ve learned what you need to learn to ensure a safer transition following discharge. If you’re a nurse or other clinician, you now have more time to focus on your clinical duties, with patient education and other service requests on demand, customized and automatically part of patients’ electronic medical records. And if you’re a hospital administrator, your ability to deliver improved, measurable patient quality and service in government programs like Medicare and Medicaid is going to have a direct impact on reimbursements.
Sound plausible? It’s already in place or in transition in hundreds of hospitals across the country. As more and more hospitals move from analog to digital technologies and synchronize their internal systems with more forward-thinking interactive solutions, the future is bright and getting brighter for hospitals and their staff, patients, and patient caregivers.
The three most significant trends now underway and continuing in 2012 include (1) the evolving interactive landscape; (2) enhanced patient experience; and (3) changes in healthcare reimbursement practices, especially involving government programs.
Improving Efficiencies While Giving Patients More Directcontrol
On the interactive front, the television system patients are using for entertainment programming and education also will become a cornerstone for improving workplace efficiencies. For example, if a patient spills water or otherwise dirties their room, he or she might wait for the cleaning staff to visit, or more typically, press the nurse call button. The nurse, busy making rounds or tending to clinical priorities, would come to the room, hear the request and call the appropriate service department to address the problem. These steps, of course, would take time and perhaps compromise sanitation quality or create a slipping hazard.
However, if the room was equipped with an interactive system, the patient could simply notify the appropriate staff area directly from a simple menu of service options accessible through the system and their television. The service request would then be logged, and staff could respond more quickly. This direct intervention will enhance patient safety and care quality, leaving nurses free to their clinical duties, while the service request and responsiveness can be recorded for quality measurement. This same interactive accessibility will be used for ordering meals through customized nutritional planning, accessing hospital service and amenities, soliciting reading materials and other information, learning about classes and support group meetings, and for providing feedback.
Enhanced Patient Education Improves Compliance, Reduces Readmissions
Many U.S. hospitals have already moved beyond carting video monitors into patient rooms and common areas, turning instead to interactive education systems to complement their patient education and care-management planning. Nurses can prescribe specific education that relates to a patient’s condition or illness, and the patient can access this customized programming at his or her convenience, around the clock. By digitizing extensive, multi-lingual education and making it truly ondemand, hospitals are helping patients become more personally involved in understanding and taking a greater role in their own care and recovery. These programs can be watched by patients and family members alike and clinicians can provide follow-up support and answer questions that may arise.
This is significant in helping drive improved pharmaceutical and post-discharge compliance involving nutrition, exercise, healing, and safety. This is especially important since patients are often reticent to ask questions of clinical staff, and often don’t understand or are likely to forget important information. Hospitals also use these high-tech systems to deliver information on a variety of adjunct services and programs. With interactive measurement features built in, patient viewing can be documented, analyzed, and become part of the patient’s electronic medical record. Additionally, subject matter tests can be administered through the system to determine comprehension and opportunities for additional supportive education.
A related trend involves the move beyond analog televisions with standard definition programming to the purchasing of advanced high-definition (HD) television with matching HD programming for the optimal patient experience and entertainment.
This more interactive approach to patient education and overall experience is resulting in increased patient understanding and satisfaction, fewer readmissions and decreased lengths of stay, while freeing nurses and physicians to focus more on their clinical duties.
Measuring and Rewarding Success
Healthcare technology and education can have a significant impact on results relative to the evolving reimbursement strategies being implemented by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Beginning in October 2012 (fiscal year 2013), as part of its “Value-Based Purchasing” initiative, CMS will withhold one percent of qualifying reimbursement from hospitals, instead placing this money for Medicare services in a bonus pool. Using 17 core Clinical Process of Care measures and eight measures based on Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) surveys, CMS will gauge performance based on these criteria, and will add more going forward. Hospitals receiving above-average marks for patient satisfaction and quality relative to these measures will receive bonuses from that reimbursement pool.
In subsequent years this withholding percentage will increase 0.25 percent per year. Eventually, reimbursements will be directly linked to each individual hospital’s performance, not simply awarded as bonuses. That withholding is scheduled to increase to 2 percent by 2017, and may continue to climb in the following years, with additional criteria being added.
The solution, clearly, is to invest now in updating infrastructure, and the installation of more comprehensive, patient-centered interactive technology systems that offer the above-mentioned features and automated service recovery, improving the overall quality of care and the patient experience. For example, the TIGR® interactive patient education system offered by TeleHealth Services offers extreme scalability, so hospitals can meet needs today, while planning for added functionality in the future. These kinds of progressive systems ensure a simplified, successful transition to future changes and requirements in healthcare patient-education technologies, reimbursement equations and improved clinical outcomes.
Matt Barker is vice president of Marketing for TeleHealth Services, based in Raleigh, North Carolina.
About TeleHealth Services:
With more than 2,500 healthcare clients across the country, TeleHealth Services is the nation’s leading provider of integrated technology and communications solutions for the healthcare market. Combining 50+ years of healthcare expertise and partnerships with industry leading manufacturers, TeleHealth Services is uniquely positioned to offer a full suite of hospital technology solutions that includes:
- Interactive patient and staff education platforms
- Healthcare grade televisions and accessories
- Patient protection and security systems
- Bedside patient entertainment solutions
- The latest educational and entertainment content
- Custom designed communication systems
- Comprehensive design, implementation, and service packages
- Flexible financing solutions
Headquartered in Raleigh, N.C., TeleHealth Services is a division of Telerent Leasing Corporation. Telerent, founded in 1957, operates as a subsidiary of ITOCHU International, Inc. For more information on TeleHealth, call 800-733-8610, or visit at http://www.telehealth.com/.
Director of Marketing