What happens when a patient leaves their doctor’s office and is sent home? Having the phone number of on-call clinicians and a set of brochures can only go so far. As patients, we have certain expectations around transparency, convenience, and reassurance.
Mobile and self-service solutions can play a big part in helping patients take control of their health by providing easy access to important information to help them stay on track when it comes to follow-up care.
Recently, a friend of mine had outpatient surgery. Their surgery is quite common and has a very low risk factor. However, positive statistics don’t relieve the anxiety of someone the night before surgery and during recovery.
Before their pre-op appointment, they received an SMS appointment reminder with the date, time, Dr.’s name, and a number to call if they had to cancel. Minimal info…but so far, so good. Fast forward one month to the week before the surgery. There was no pre-surgery appointment reminder and they had a slew of questions that were not answered in the brochures they were given or on their provider’s website. So, they turned to internet and forums of people that had the same procedure because they didn’t want to bother their provider with the laundry list of questions they had including:
- “What is the parking situation?”
- “How long will they have to wait before they go into the operation room?”
- “Will they have a separate exit when they are finished or will they have to go through the waiting room?”
- “Should their friend wait in the waiting room the entire time?”
This is where mobile and self-service solutions could have come into play and acted as a medical concierge. In addition to providing basic surgery logistics (time, date, etc.) their provider could have delivered easy accessible admissions prep and facility information all through SMS. While this wouldn’t have relieved all of their anxiety they would have had some peace of mind.
In recovery, the nurse went over medication adherence, wound care, and pain management. She was very thorough—but that didn’t really matter because my friend was still feeling the effects of anesthesia and didn’t know up from down.
It was imperative that my friend adhere to the medication instructions because the pain killers and muscle relaxers were very powerful and not to be mixed—so they were given a sheet of paper to hand-chart dosages. This became very cumbersome and annoying because there wasn’t enough space available to write in all of the necessary information.
Mobile and self-service could have helped in three ways. Providing secure mobile portal to log dosages and mobile medication reminders would have made it easier to track things, and having access to post-op resources through SMS or email would have made information more convenient and readily available.
The patient experience begins well before the patient walks into a facility, and extends beyond discharge. Mobile and self-service technology is empowering patients to stay educated throughout their journey by providing access to resources and enhancing communication with their providers over the channels they use every day. The more educated a patient is the more empowered they are to make better decisions and have a speedy recovery.