Improving Discharge Instruction Compliance
Discharge instruction compliance refers to how effectively patients are following the instructions provided by a medical professional after leaving their care. While it is easy to assume that discharge instructions are going to be simple, this is not always the case. In some cases, it’s possible for these instructions to stretch across multiple pages. The length of instructions is necessary to ensure that patients get all the information they need. However, it can also lead to issues with patients struggling to understand the instructions or potentially never engaging with information.
Improving discharge instruction compliance is a constant goal for medical professionals. It is a key way to improve levels of patient care and reduce issues with readmissions.
Impact of Improvements
Various studies have shown the impact of improving discharge instruction compliance on the experience of a patient. One research study in 2016 explored the impact of different members of the medical team providing novel discharge instructions. The research suggested that revised discharge instructions significantly impacted levels of patient satisfaction. At the same time, patients were more likely to be ready for discharge and happy with the instructions they received for home care.
Further evidence demonstrating the importance of instruction compliance is clear through medical statistics. 20% of patients are readmitted to the hospital just 30 days after being discharged. 79% of readmissions are considered to be preventable and a result of patient care that is uncoordinated.
When exploring ways to improve discharge instruction compliance, medical professionals and practices are now exploring technology. The issue of patient ability to understand instructions can be mitigated by making instructions clearer. A key way to approach this is by providing the instructions in different formats rather than as a paper document. As well as being difficult to understand, paper documents pose security risks and are not HIPAA compliant.
Technology can be used to provide discharge instructions in many formats, easier for patients to digest. Options like text messages and portals may provide the answer when exploring how to reduce poor health outcomes.
In addition to being more secure, these new options also provide accessibility benefits for the patient. They can review the information repeatedly, which ensures that patients don’t need to rely on remembering what a medical professional said the first time the instructions were provided. It also ensures that information can be accessed by the patient in their home weeks later.
There are a variety of delivery options available to consider too. For instance, medical professionals have favored using an Echo recording device for audio. The benefit is that patients are already familiar with the technology. It is even sometimes part of their daily routine and provides a simple, straightforward user interface. One medical practice found that questions from patients about their care decreased by 52% after implementing this type of solution.
With the Echo, instructions were recorded as well as a recap of the procedure that had been completed. Patients were able to access the information an unlimited number of times. It helped improve experiences for outpatients at the same time.
Other medical practices have benefited from using a patient engagement platforms like AC Health when improving discharge instruction compliance. The benefit of this option is that instructions can be sent directly to personal devices that are used on a daily basis. The flexibility of this option ensures that information can be provided to a preferred device including a phone, tablet or laptop computer.
In addition to visual information, utilizing technology that patients are already using is a substantial benefit. Various research reports have suggested that visual information is far easier for patients to comprehend and remember. As such, there are fewer chances of issues with the information being confused or misread.
A Personalized Approach
One of the issues with discharge instructions is that they can be created to match a group of patients rather than an individual patient. It’s not uncommon for a doctor to copy and repeat a set of instructions for a patient that has undergone a similar procedure to another. The issue here is that patients are not the same and are by definition, individuals. They could difficulty with comprehension, or they may require a specific instruction that another patient may not.
This is another reason why technology is improving discharge instruction compliance. With technology, it’s possible to ensure that individual differences can be immediately implemented as part of the plan. These can be added by medical professionals in seconds, and this includes more complex content such as video files. The ability to prescribe a custom recovery plan just as easily as printing out the templated plan is changing the way doctors can help patients.
Medical staff should aim to provide value to patients, ensure that discharge instructions are clear and improve the efficiency of their service. Increasing efficiency ensures that more time can be spent helping patients rather than basic admin tasks. Again, technology is offering a solution with automated systems. Automated systems ensure that discharge instructions can be delivered and received with limited provider time spent creating them. It can also help avoid errors which may include patients never receiving the instructions that they require. It can even be used to ensure that discharge instructions are not lost by the patient.
One of the most innovative ways of improving compliance is the utilization of live instructions. Technology allows doctors to record, in real time, patient discharge instructions while they are prescribing it in person. This is possible through apps like AC Health and has proven to be one of the most effective ways of assigning instructions. Patients feel more involved and can easily understand what is being assigned to them. This process not only includes the patient, but also clarifies any misunderstandings the patient may have. In addition, they can review the information at any point from their mobile device.
Technology is making it possible for patients to receive better discharge instructions and actually stay compliant with their plan of care. Patients feel more involved and have a better understanding of what their doctor wants them to do.