by Mark Garver, May 13, 2023
We are often asked what area of healthcare we are focusing on with our investments in Health Tech, it is an area that we certainly think is broken… it is the patient care journey. This journey which I will define below impacts patients, their families and while you may not be aware, it impacts the healthcare professionals as well.
First let’s define the Patient Care Journey – The patient care journey refers to the various stages and interactions that a patient goes through when seeking healthcare services, from the initial point of contact with a healthcare provider to the completion of their treatment or recovery. It encompasses the entire experience and process that a patient undergoes, including their interactions with healthcare professionals, administrative staff, and the healthcare system as a whole.
The patient care journey typically involves the following key stages:
- Pre-Visit: This stage involves the patient’s initial contact with the healthcare system, such as scheduling an appointment, completing registration forms, and providing necessary medical history or insurance information.
- Arrival and Check-In: When the patient arrives at the healthcare facility, they go through the check-in process, which may involve verifying personal and insurance information, making payments, and completing any necessary paperwork.
- Consultation and Diagnosis: During this stage, the patient meets with a healthcare provider who conducts a thorough assessment, listens to the patient’s concerns, performs relevant examinations or tests, and provides a diagnosis or treatment plan.
- Treatment and Care: Once a diagnosis is made, the patient receives the necessary treatment, which may include medication, therapy, surgery, or other interventions. The healthcare team closely monitors the patient’s progress, adjusts the treatment plan as needed, and provides ongoing care and support.
- Follow-up and Monitoring: After the initial treatment, the patient may require follow-up appointments or ongoing monitoring to ensure their recovery progresses as expected. This stage involves regular check-ups, assessments, and additional tests or procedures if necessary.
- Transition and Discharge: If the patient’s condition improves or they complete their treatment, they transition out of the active care phase. This stage involves discharge planning, medication instructions, post-treatment recommendations, and any necessary referrals for continued care or rehabilitation.
Throughout the patient care journey, effective communication, coordination, and collaboration among healthcare providers, as well as patient engagement and education, are crucial. The goal is to ensure a seamless, patient-centered experience that addresses their healthcare needs, enhances their well-being, and promotes positive health outcomes.
Optimizing the patient care journey involves improving the overall experience, quality of care, and outcomes for patients. Here are some strategies to optimize the patient care journey:
- Enhance Communication: Effective communication is vital at every stage of the patient care journey. Healthcare providers should ensure clear and concise communication with patients, actively listen to their concerns, and provide information in a way that is easily understandable. Utilizing technology, such as patient portals or secure messaging systems, can facilitate timely and efficient communication between patients and healthcare providers.
- Streamline Administrative Processes: Simplify and streamline administrative processes to minimize wait times and reduce paperwork. Implement electronic medical records (EMRs) and digital documentation systems to enhance efficiency and improve access to patient information. Offer online appointment scheduling, pre-registration, and electronic check-in options to enhance convenience and reduce administrative burdens for patients.
- Enhance Care Coordination: Improve coordination among healthcare providers to ensure seamless transitions and continuity of care. This involves effective sharing of patient information, collaboration between different specialties and healthcare settings, and clear care plans and care pathways. Utilize care teams, care coordinators, and case managers to facilitate communication and coordination among providers.
- Embrace Technology: Leverage technology to enhance patient care. Telemedicine and remote monitoring can improve access to care, especially for patients in remote areas or with limited mobility. Mobile health applications and wearable devices can empower patients to actively participate in their own care and monitor their health status. Implement digital tools for patient education, medication reminders, and self-management support.
- Foster Patient Engagement: Engage patients as active participants in their care journey. Involve them in shared decision-making, encourage them to ask questions, and provide educational resources to enhance health literacy. Encourage patients to provide feedback on their care experience and use their input to drive quality improvement initiatives.
- Focus on Patient Safety: Implement measures to enhance patient safety throughout the care journey. This includes medication reconciliation processes, infection control protocols, fall prevention strategies, and robust systems for reporting and addressing patient safety incidents.
- Continuous Quality Improvement: Regularly assess and evaluate the patient care journey to identify areas for improvement. Collect patient feedback, monitor outcomes, and analyze data to identify opportunities to enhance care delivery, efficiency, and patient satisfaction. Use quality improvement methodologies, such as Lean or Six Sigma, to drive continuous improvement efforts.
By implementing these strategies, healthcare organizations can optimize the patient care journey, leading to improved patient outcomes, enhanced patient satisfaction, and a more efficient and effective healthcare system.
While what I have written above is more about strategy, or areas of focus than it is about Health Tech solutions, it is important to understand. Our founder Ewelina has one overarching goal, “making healthcare like a trusted family friend.”