Friday, September 30, 2022

As crisis mode ends, hospitals renew focus on the patient experience

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The last two years have been defined by a global pandemic. The healthcare industry faced major pressures to care for an influx of COVID-19 patients, as well as crippling burnout. However, during that time, the focus was survival and not necessarily the patient and caregiver experience. 

“We’re trying to take a breath and not just focus on crisis mode, but we get to innovate again. Now, it’s more so how can we make care delivery magic again,” Brian Martinez, patient care administrator at Orlando Health, said during the Patient Experience Forum at HIMSS22.  

One area poised for change is the caregiver experience. During the height of the pandemic, the caregiver experience was dramatically changed. 

Martinez said that including caregivers in multidisciplinary rounding could be one way to keep families involved in care. It could also give clinicians insights into patients’ wishes. For example, a caregiver could advise on whether a patient would want a feeding tube. 

However, rounding times are often inconsistent, which can leave caregivers waiting around all day. 

“I absolutely love this concept of multidisciplinary rounding; I see the power in it. But please, can we send an alert to the family member when someone is coming? … A text message or note … would help to coordinate because of that anxiety of ‘I don’t want to miss the doctor,'” Grace Cordovano, founder of Enlightening Results, said during the panel. 

As for the future of the patient experience, more engagement is crucial. 

“I am superexcited about information blocking rules and patients having access to their medical records and that care partners have access, because they will be able to do the work they need to do, to do the work they need. So, understanding the power of your medical records, how to participate in your care.” 

In 2020, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services finalized its rules to fulfill the interoperability and information blocking provisions from the 21st Century Cures Act. Part of the ruling focused on supporting patients’ access and control of their EHRs. 

“There is a shift [toward] participatory medicine, more shared decision-making, and perhaps the tipping the scales of innovation toward consumerism, expecting more from organizations from that front and dispelling some of these myths that patients can’t handle their records – they’re too unengaged, noncompliant, stupid and all of these other things,” Cordovano said. “We are very capable, and I think the sooner we dispel those myths, the better we are going to get at this. I really do feel that patients and families can alleviate that physician burden, staff burden by letting them come and help.” 

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