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Collecting Patient-Reported Outcomes

Tuesday, June 28th, 2022

More healthcare organizations are searching for ways to improve patient outcomes while reducing costs. As the many in the industry are experimenting with value-based healthcare models, payers and providers need a way to measure the quality of care received to determine efficacy and provider reimbursement rates. Collecting patient-reported outcomes is one way to measure patients’ quality of care.

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What is a Patient-Reported Outcome?

A patient-reported outcome (PRO) is any report of a patient’s health condition or status relating to symptoms, functionality, mental, social, and physical health from the patient’s perspective without an external interpretation by a healthcare professional.

Patient-reported health outcomes can relate to general health measures or the management of a chronic condition.

One possible application is following up with cancer patients after chemotherapy treatments. Within a few days of an infusion, a healthcare provider could send a survey to follow up on patient symptoms and responses to treatment. The patient (or caregiver) could complete the survey online. Then, the clinician can easily adjust their care plan depending on the responses. For example, suppose the chemotherapy triggers nausea, making it difficult for the patient to eat. In that case, the clinician could call in a prescription to help alleviate that symptom before the patient becomes dehydrated or malnourished and needs more intensive medical care.

Making it as easy as possible for patients to complete surveys is crucial to collecting patient-reported outcomes.

How to Measure Patient-Reported Outcomes

Patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs) are questionnaires and surveys that capture information about a patient’s health status and treatment goals. The surveys measure health at a single time and over a long period.

Studies have shown that collecting PROMs can result in an increased overall survival rate, improved quality of life, decreased emergency room visits, and hospitalizations. Collecting PROMs is not challenging to do and improves clinical outcomes.

How to Obtain Patient-Reported Outcomes?

It’s essential to have clear goals and KPIs when setting out to measure patient outcomes. Identifying clear goals will help providers design surveys that deliver relevant data. Asking too many questions can create an avalanche of irrelevant information and are less likely to be completed by patients. Instead, it’s essential to design short surveys that are easy for the patient to understand. Surveys that are easy to answer will yield the highest number of responses.

In addition, the survey delivery method matters. Administration can happen in many ways: mail, web/email, telephone, or even onsite. Patients should be presented with surveys in the methods that match their pre-stated preferences.

Administering questionnaires through the mail can be costly. Putting together a mailing requires administrative resources to collect patient addresses, send the questionnaires, monitor responses, and follow up on undeliverable mail. Telephone surveys create a similar administrative burden. They require staff to gather and verify patient phone numbers, call to administer the surveys and follow up with dropped, lost, or missed calls. All survey information must then be entered into a patient’s health record and reviewed by their healthcare provider before changes to their treatment plan can occur. This delay may make the survey data irrelevant.

Web-based or email questionnaires are often a better alternative. Email automation can trigger surveys at certain recovery milestones to reduce administrative burdens. Digitizing survey forms makes reviewing and syncing data with electronic health records easier. This allows providers to adjust care plans in response to patient needs quickly.

Benefits of Patient-Reported Outcomes

The primary goal of collecting patient-reported outcomes is to improve the patient’s health. PROMs allow healthcare providers to follow up with patients to prevent unnecessary hospitalizations, emergency visits, and readmissions.

By collecting PROMs, hospitals can increase capacity and reduce costs. A KLAS research report found that digital health monitoring programs reduced the number of emergency department visits by 25%, with a 38% reduction in hospital admissions, corresponding to a 17% decrease in costs.

Using patient-reported outcome measures can help healthcare systems administrators reach the quadruple aim of improving patient experiences and population health, reducing costs, and improving the experience of healthcare workers. Please contact us to learn more about how LuxSci can help collect patient-reported outcomes with our Secure Forms and Secure High Volume Email solutions.

Increasing Operational Efficiency with Email Automation

Tuesday, April 12th, 2022

If you work in a busy healthcare practice, administrative tasks can create additional costs and barriers to care. Common communications like appointment reminders, billing statements, and other external messages take a lot of time to create and send. By automating these emails, it’s possible to increase operational efficiency and improve patient outcomes.

email automation

What is Email Automation?

Email automation allows organizations to automatically send emails based on pre-determined triggers or behaviors. Receipts, shipping notifications, password resets are all common types of automated transactional emails. The main message content is created in advance. Then, variables are used to insert custom information into the template automatically. Most importantly, the email is sent when a certain action is taken. Many people are familiar with automated emails in the form of receipts. For example, you make an online purchase and a receipt is automatically emailed to you with the exact details of your purchase. Next, we explore some examples for how email automation can increase operational efficiency in the healthcare system.

How Email Automation Works

There are many ways to utilize email automation to streamline patient communications. One example is appointment reminders. This is a good message to automate because:

  1. The message is generally the same for every recipient
  2. Variables can be used to customize the content: the patient’s name and the date/time of their appointment.
  3. There is a clear event to trigger the email (the date of the upcoming appointment).

Let’s look at an example of an appointment reminder email:

An administrator creates a template with the message content and layout. It may read something like: “Hi [patient name], This notice is to remind you of your upcoming appointment with Dr. Smith on [X date] at [X time]. Please call our office at 555-555-5555 if you need to reschedule.”

Next, connect the email program to a patient database, like an EHR or CRM. If properly integrated, it is possible to pull in the correct information to replace the variables (in brackets above) for the email recipient. For example, the if the email was sent to a patient named Jane Doe, the email program would pull in the correct details from her record to read: “Hi Jane Doe, This notice is to remind you of your upcoming appointment with Dr. Smith on May 2, 2022 at 1pm. Please call our office at 555-555-5555 if you need to reschedule.”

Finally, set up a trigger point to instruct the email program under what conditions to send the email. For an appointment reminder, the administrator may choose to send the email one week before the appointment, so the recipient has ample time to respond.

Once the template, variables, and trigger are set up, ongoing attention from office staff is not required. Each day appointment reminder emails will be sent out when the conditions of the trigger are met.

The Benefits of Email Automation

By automating common administrative email communications, it frees up staff time to focus on patients. Many healthcare providers still have staff members call patients to remind them of upcoming appointments. By automating this task, it streamlines operations and frees up staff time to focus on other tasks more directly tied to improving patient health outcomes. Using email (and/or text message) reminders can also help decrease no-show rates and reduce the costs of rescheduling.

Email automation is just one tool that can help streamline administrative workflows, provide cost savings, and improve the health outcomes of patients.

Don’t Forget HIPAA

Automated emails like appointment reminders, billing messages, and test results all contain ePHI and must be protected under HIPAA guidelines. Review our HIPAA guidelines for email and take steps to secure systems before starting to automate and send transactional emails containing ePHI.

Get Started with Email Automation

To get started, there are a few internal questions that need to be answered.

First, identify the data source- do you have a database or EHR that contains the information needed to trigger and personalize email messages? Next, how will these emails be sent? Do you have an email marketing platform with automation capabilities? Finally, how will these messages be secured?

Once these questions are answered, LuxSci’s Secure High Volume Email service can help securely scale your operations. Contact us if you are interested in learning more about automating email workflows for your healthcare practice.

Improve Access to Preventative Healthcare with Email

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2022

Next up in our series on patient education and engagement, we look at ways to encourage preventative healthcare with digital technologies.

 

Vaccines and Flu Shot Information

It’s challenging to encourage individuals to get a yearly flu shot. There are many reasons that people do not get annual flu shots. Some of these reasons include:

  • not enough time
  • don’t think they need one
  • don’t know where or when to get one

Accordingly, one way to expand outreach efforts is with a series of personalized and educational emails. Using a patient database, it’s easy to identify the patients who are at the highest risk of suffering severe consequences from contracting the flu. Subsequently, the marketing team can put together a series of educational emails that address some of the common questions including:

  • why flu shots are important to public health
  • how to schedule a flu shot appointment
  • promotions to incentivize populations with lower vaccination rates

In addition, patient education can also help combat vaccine misinformation. The Covid-19 vaccine rollout represents a good example. The lack of compelling information from official sources led people to the Internet and social media to search for information about the vaccines. Despite local and national government efforts, the information void was filled by misinformation. Reaching out to patients before they encountered misinformation could have helped increase trust and increased vaccination rates.

Preventative Healthcare Screenings and Testings

Preventative healthcare screenings for cancer, blood pressure, and diabetes are recommended on a yearly basis. Identifying these conditions and treating them early on can drastically improve health outcomes. However, many people do not know when to get screened. Many tests do not apply until patients reach a certain age bracket or if they have certain risk factors. Email campaigns can target patients who meet the criteria for a preventative screening.

Next, let’s look at another example. Breast cancer screenings are recommended for women when they reach 40 years old. A healthcare marketer could create an email campaign to let eligible patients know how to schedule a mammogram. This campaign could provide educational information on why screenings are important, what patients can expect at their mammogram, and how to schedule an appointment. Promotional tactics can also encourage more signups. Early detection of cancer saves lives, and it’s incredibly important to conduct these screenings.

Appointment Scheduling

Furthermore, it is important that patients come in for annual appointments. These appointments are where many screening procedures occur. Skipping an annual appointment can mean missing the early symptoms of a serious health condition. Email campaigns can help close care gaps and encourage patients who have missed appointments to reschedule. Removing barriers to care and increasing the number of communication touch points can improve patient engagement.

The Power of Personalization in Preventative Healthcare

Finally, emails are even more powerful when they are personalized using ePHI. Marketers can use audience segmentation to break down patient populations into distinct groups and create relevant messaging. However, to segment and personalize email marketing messages with ePHI, the organization must use a HIPAA-compliant marketing solution. Read our other blogs for more information on selecting a HIPAA-compliant email marketing platform.

By targeting distinct patient groups, marketing teams can create highly relevant messages that increase patient engagement. Let’s take the earlier breast cancer screening campaign example. This campaign is particularly relevant to women in their 40s and 50s who may be unfamiliar with the screening process and how to schedule a mammogram. If this campaign was sent to an entire patient population, it would be confusing and annoying. Young women may mistakenly believe they needed to get screened, and men would be annoyed by the unnecessary email outreach.

Targeting the right population at the right time with the right message is key to marketing success. Using patient data in a safe way allows the marketing team to create highly personalized campaigns that help patients access preventative healthcare.

Conclusion

To conclude, educational email campaigns can encourage patients to access preventative care that they may not know is available. To achieve the best results, marketers can use segmentation and personalization to create highly targeted email campaigns to help patients achieve desired health outcomes. For more information on creating HIPAA-compliant email marketing campaigns, check out LuxSci’s Secure Marketing tool.

Engage Patients with Educational Messaging

Tuesday, March 15th, 2022

Educating patients about their upcoming medical procedures is an important part of building trust and increasing retention. Using digital technologies to educate patients is just one way to reinforce messaging and improve patient compliance. This article provides some examples of how to digitally engage with patients both before and after undergoing a medical procedure.

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HIPAA-Compliant Email Hosting or Outbound Email Encryption?

Tuesday, January 25th, 2022

There are many ways to protect ePHI in email. HIPAA is technology-neutral and doesn’t make specific recommendations for how to protect email communications. This article explains the difference between a HIPAA-compliant email host and an email encryption gateway. These are just two of the options for securing email accounts.

email encryption

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