Help Me Help You: Empowering Patients to be Partners in Their Care

Healthcare is quickly becoming the home of big business. Hospital systems are merging and physicians’ groups get bigger.  For many providers, especially specialists, the growing healthcare system means less time with patients and higher patient volumes.  In addition to this new normal, reimbursement systems are changing and payment is increasingly tied to quality measures and physician ratings.

In this new healthcare environment, how can providers and healthcare systems improve outcomes, see more patients, and limit costs? Things like new EHRs that integrate providers throughout the care continuum and hiring more support staff can help to improve care from the provider side.  There are plenty of options, many of them complicated and requiring significant institutional disruption.

One of the simplest and most cost effective ways turns out to be increasing patient engagement and investment in their personal health outcomes.  As care moves more into long-term maintenance of chronic conditions and surgeries have trended toward the outpatient setting, what a patient does away from the hospital becomes ever more important.  Patients must now be viewed as partners on the care team instead of recipients of care provided.

In the last few years, studies have shown that increasing patient engagement improves management of chronic conditions and improves outcomes across the board. A study published in BMJ Open showed that cardiologists who engaged patients in their own healthcare were able to have patients more actively manage their care once leaving the hospital.  The study walks through various stages that patients walk through to buy-in to their active management, but one common theme runs throughout the four stages: physicians were viewed by their patients as being in a guidance role.  Instead of only providing consults to other physicians, specialists can serve as consultants directly to patients who can then be tasked to manage their own care.

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Being able to effectively build partnerships with your patients will improve your outcomes and increase the amount of patients you can help. Imagine how much more effective your practice would be if every one of your patients acted as their own care extender.  Many healthcare systems employ nurse coordinators and other employees to engage with patients outside of their office visits but effective education and follow-up can allow a practitioner to do that without the resources only large healthcare systems are able to deploy.

Epharmix helps providers to enable each patient to become their own primary contact with the healthcare system. It does this by providing the capability to engage and follow-up with patients on a regular basis without requiring additional staff. Think of Epharmix in these terms: “if I could see a patient in my office every day, what information would I like to provide them the best care possible.”  By building this partnership with our easily customizable alerts and communication system, Epharmix helps to enlist every patient as their own case manager.

In addition to management of chronic conditions, Epharmix and our surgery suite, EpxSurgery, provide managed care level tracking of pre- and post-surgical feedback.  Our EpxDecol helps patients adhere to the pre-surgical decolonization procedure and EpxWound helps to keep track of wound healing and occurrence of SSI’s.  EpxSurgery helps surgeons keep inpatient level monitoring while operating in an outpatient setting.

As medicine becomes increasingly outpatient and physicians become more like consultants, Epharmix helps providers track metrics with unprecedented efficiency.  Patients deserve to be treated as partners in their care and this requires more follow-up and effort than ever.  Our systems help providers to actively engage their patients without the resources and institutional commitment required by most systems.

Editor’s Note: This post is written by Craig Yugawa, an independent researcher at EPX Research Center and a MD student at Washington University School of Medicine. Want to learn about how Epharmix can help with engaging patients outside of office visits? Drop us a note at team@epharmix.com.