How can hospitals implement effective care management practices?
Effective care management practices are a vital aspect of ensuring that hospitals provide high-quality care to their patients. Care management entails overseeing and coordinating patient care across various healthcare settings, ensuring that patients receive the right care at the right time and efficiently managing resources required for optimal care provision.
By implementing effective care management practices, hospitals can enhance patient outcomes, reduce costs and boost staff morale. As a consequence, healthcare providers are now prioritising the improvement of patient services to attain a high level of patient satisfaction. This change in approach is driven by several factors such as heightened public awareness, growing demand for better care, intensified competition, stricter healthcare regulations, a rise in medical malpractice lawsuits, and concerns regarding unfavourable outcomes.
Essentially, the quality of patient care is significantly influenced by the effectiveness of operational systems, staff competence, infrastructure quality, and training quality. To ensure that patient needs are met, the implementation of a “post-discharge care” system is essential. Healthcare organisations should aim to improve the satisfaction of their patients after discharge since patient satisfaction is a valuable indicator of the quality of care and can impact outcomes and costs.
There are many ways that healthcare organisations can enhance patient satisfaction after discharge, including providing clear and comprehensive discharge instructions, coordinating follow-up care, responding to patient concerns and questions, and seeking patient feedback. Simply put, effective post-discharge care coordination not only improves patient outcomes but also aligns with the shift towards value-based care. By emphasising preventive care and reducing unnecessary readmissions, hospitals can demonstrate their commitment to delivering high-value healthcare that prioritises patient outcomes and cost-effectiveness.
Furthermore, the provision of care services such as testing, blood sample collection, and doctor visits are often mistakenly identified as care administration. However, care administration truly begins once patients depart from any delivery system, such as a hospital or doctor’s office, and are left to manage their own care. After being discharged, patients are typically responsible for a plethora of regulatory tasks, including adhering to a medication schedule, scheduling appointments for tests and doctor visits, and following a self-care routine, diet, or lifestyle. Accomplishing these tasks alone can be overwhelming for patients.
To make matters worse, patients are required to navigate through various touchpoints independently, which can be a major hassle. For example, noncompliance by patients is a significant issue within the US healthcare system, with estimated costs to the economy ranging from $100 to $300 billion annually.
In order to implement effective care management practises, hospitals must utilise the following strategies
- Identify and prioritise high-risk patients: Hospitals should use data analytics to identify patients who are at high risk for readmission or complications. By focusing on these patients, hospitals can provide targeted interventions and resources to prevent adverse events.
- Develop care management teams: Hospitals should create multidisciplinary care teams that include doctors, nurses, social workers, and other healthcare professionals. These teams can work together to develop care plans, coordinate care, and provide support to patients.
- Use technology: Hospitals should use technology to streamline care management processes, such as electronic health records (EHRs), telemedicine, and new-age technology like Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. These tools can help care teams track patient progress, communicate with each other, and provide real-time support to patients.
- Provide patient education: Hospitals should educate patients about their conditions, medications, and self-management techniques. By empowering patients with knowledge and skills, they can become active participants in their care and reduce their risk of complications.
- Implement quality improvement programs: Hospitals should continuously monitor and evaluate their care management practices to identify areas for improvement. Quality improvement programs can help hospitals identify best practices, implement evidence-based guidelines, and measure outcomes.
- Preventing unplanned readmissions: Hospital readmissions are a stubborn and complex problem. So, hospitals should prioritise preventing unplanned readmissions by implementing comprehensive discharge planning, providing clear patient education, ensuring appropriate follow-up care, and utilising technology to track patients’ progress post-discharge, in order to improve patient outcomes and reduce healthcare costs.
In order for care management systems to be implemented successfully, healthcare workers, payers, and patients must undergo a significant psychological change. Hospitals must recognise that attracting more visitors is not the only way to increase revenue and that promoting care management systems can enhance their reputation by improving patient outcomes. Care management tools can also optimise payouts for payers. Lastly, implementing care management systems ensures that all of a patient’s medical needs receive equal consideration, guaranteeing the highest standard of treatment.
Therefore, as countries worldwide, including India, strive to enhance patient care and well-being while controlling costs, care management systems will play a crucial role in shaping a new and improved healthcare future.