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Patients With Lower Activation Associated With Higher Costs; Delivery Systems Should Know Their Patients’ ‘Scores’

Jessica Greene, Judith H. Hibbard, Valerie Overton

Health Affairs Journal

Patient activation is a term that describes the skills and confidence that equip patients to become actively engaged in their health care. Health care delivery systems are turning to patient activation as yet another tool to help them and their patients improve outcomes and influence costs. In this article we examine the relationship between patient activation levels and billed care costs. In an analysis of 33,163 patients of Fairview Health Services, a large health care delivery system in Minnesota, we found that patients with the lowest activation levels had predicted average costs that were 8 percent higher in the base year and 21 percent higher in the first half of the next year than the costs of patients with the highest activation levels, both significant differences. What’s more, patient activation was a significant predictor of cost even after adjustment for a commonly used “risk score” specifically designed to predict future costs. As health care delivery systems move toward assuming greater accountability for costs and outcomes for defined patient populations, knowing patients’ ability and willingness to manage their health will be a relevant piece of information integral to health care providers’ ability to improve outcomes and lower costs.

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Patients With Lower Activation Associated With Higher Costs; Delivery Systems Should Know Their Patients’ ‘Scores’

February 5, 2020 – It’s no secret that hospitals are facing mounting pressures. While demands on the system are going up due to trends like an aging population and changing technology, hospital budgets are going down. Hospitals are struggling to keep up and the situation is only projected to get worse.

In the face of these challenges, healthcare leaders are looking for better ways to optimize hospital operations and ensure optimal patient outcomes. The challenge, however, has been finding a solution that is sustainable, cost effective and future proof.

At HealthHub, we think the solution lies in the patients themselves – through patient engagement.

Patient engagement involves providing patients with access to the right information at the right time. It means connecting patients to their healthcare providers and systems. And, it means supporting patients along the way with the right tools, controls and entertainment to make their journey as seamless and as frictionless as possible.

Although decades ago, it was thought that patients should be kept in the dark about their own health, we now know that when patients are engaged, everyone wins.

In fact, when patients are enabled with the right information, they become better informed, more empowered, and more engaged in their own care – all of which lead to better health outcomes and a more efficient healthcare system.

Engaged patients mean that doctors can do more doctoring, nurses can do more nursing and administrators can focus on delivering added value to the system.

So, just how can we facilitate patient engagement? By bringing the hospital to the patient’s bedside.

Of the 5.8 days the average Canadian patient stays in hospital, most of this time is spent alone, often watching a bedside TV. At HealthHub, we recognized this as an opportunity for innovation. In fact, we’ve developed a new bedside terminal platform, called myHealthHub, that replaces outdated TVs to deliver a powerful patient engagement solution.

Our platform not only enables patients to be entertained through features like on-demand TV and Wi-Fi, but it also allows patients to stay engaged with family, friends, community, hospital and – most importantly – their own care, through a suite of patient engagement applications.

By taking a patient-centered approach, we’re helping to bring the hospital to the bedside and transform the patient experience.

HealthHub is investing significantly to improve the experience of the Canadian patient and, in 2019, launched our all-new myHealthHub
patient engagement platform, along with making other company changes (see image below).

What’s more is that the benefits don’t stop at the patient. The benefits of our bedside patient engagement platform extend beyond the patient and to healthcare providers.

Let’s take one example. So many times, nurses report that they feel as if they’re the captain of their patient’s journey. In addition to providing caregiving and companionship, nurses are relied on to respond to a wide range of patient requests – dim the lights, order meals, adjust environmental controls and so on. If patients had the right technology at their bedside, providing them with better control over simple things like their environment or food orders, imagine what it would mean for both nurses and patients? Patients would have more agency and nurses could focus on providing care and companionship – the things that have been proven to help people heal faster.

Bedside patient engagement technology also aligns with the current global shift towards valuing patient outcome and experience over simply patient flow. Rather than focus on how quickly patients can be moved through a hospital, decision-makers are looking at the patient journey through a more holistic lens and working to improve it. This is in part because it’s the right thing to do and in part because patients are demanding it. As our world becomes more digitally-enabled, patients expect hospitals to be equipped with the latest technology and they expect connectivity – even from their hospital bed.

In summary, as pressures mount for hospitals to operate more efficiently, provide excellent patient experiences and deliver optimal health outcomes, we think the future lies in the hands of the patients. By unlocking new possibilities that come along with patient engagement, everyone wins. We’ve already seen proof that bedside patient engagement technology can transform patient experiences and outcomes – and we’ve only just begun.

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To learn more about myHealthHub, please visit www.healthhubsolutions.ca/myhealthhub

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