Healthcare News & Views

How Digital Care Journeys Help Chief Quality Officers Achieve Key Quality Metrics

June 8, 2023
By
Suneha Dutta

Quality is a key priority in healthcare delivery. Even more so as the drive towards value-based healthcare nudges organizations to evaluate their operations and strategies in ensuring patients receive the highest-quality care.

Many health care organizations are looking to Chief Quality Officers to spearhead initiatives that ensure fulfillment of key quality metrics and quality improvement efforts. However, there’s no universal definition of “quality”, which means a Chief Quality Officer is often looking at several aspects of care delivery, including improving patient safety and experience, staff satisfaction, and clinical and operational efficiencies, all while driving down costs.

Over the past few years, digital health solutions like Digital Care Journeys have emerged as an effective digital tool in the health care industry that not only helps achieve better clinical outcomes such as reduced length of stay, readmission, ED visits, and mortality, but also enhances quality of care by improving patient engagement, increasing access to healthcare, reducing burden on frontline staff, and enabling better data collection to further optimize healthcare delivery. 

While the benefits and potential of Digital Care Journeys as a digital health tool are many, here’s a look at some specific Quality Metrics and strategies that can be supported by Digital Care Journeys.

Key Quality Metrics Digital Care Journeys can Help Achieve

With countless quality measures Quality Officers could look at, how do they decide which ones to measure? Most select quality metrics based on their organization’s needs, reporting requirements of regulatory agencies (e.g. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services [CMS]), commercial payers, as well as accrediting bodies (e.g. the Joint Commission).

Here’s how Digital Care Journeys can help achieve and improve a few commonly used quality metrics.

Readmissions and length of stay (LOS)

Finding the optimal length of stay and preventing readmission are important metrics for both patients and health care systems. Lower 30-day readmission rates indicate higher care quality, and it is one of the five areas of quality measured by the CMS for the Overall Hospital Quality Star Rating.

By leveraging app-based Digital Care Journeys, leading hospitals are revamping their readmissions prevention strategy, as well as streamlining processes that support earlier discharge, aka reduced length of stay.

Patients are prompted through pre- and post-care processes via just-in-time education and condition-specific, automated reminders regarding their mobility, medication, nutrition, diet, etc., daily check-ins, and to-do lists.

While helping patients meet pre-surgery milestones increases referral to surgery or surgical throughput, these digital tools also enable earlier discharge and more effective recovery; in post-surgery, patients can self-report data such as vital signs, pain scores, symptoms, and range-of-motion, and share photos of their wounds and incisions through these platforms remotely. 

Providers can monitor patients via dashboards and alerts, receive real-time data to watch out for early warning signs of complications (e.g. fever, surgical incision issues), thereby reducing readmissions, ED visits, and phone calls.

For instance, with the use of Digital Care Journeys, Baystate Health saw a 72% reduction in 30-day readmissions and 69% reduction in observation stays, while the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) saw a 2-day decrease in LOS

As Cheryl Crisafi MSN, RN, CNL, Nurse Coordinator at Baystate Heart & Vascular Center, shares “SeamlessMD has been critical for our readmissions prevention strategy, allowing our care teams to monitor patients at home and catch complications earlier. Most importantly, patients love the SeamlessMD experience! Patients feel connected to our team every step of the way, even when they are at home.” 

Patient experience 

Patient experience, which has a direct correlation with patient safety outcomes, is one of the key quality metrics measured by the Leapfrog Group to assign safety grades to general hospitals in the US, as well as by other regulatory bodies. According to the CMS, patient experience covers several aspects, including: 

  • whether patients reported that they were given information about what to do during their recovery at home and 
  • how aware they were about their care journey and self-management. 

With Digital Care Journeys, providers can ensure patients are able to easily access evidence-based education libraries 24/7 on their everyday devices (smartphone, tablets or computers, etc.) along with automated reminders and surveys to track their recovery progress. These personalized learning pathways empower patients to take control of their own care.

At UAB Medicine, 93% of patients said that the Digital Care Journey platform helped them feel more confident post procedure; and at Multicare - which implemented the platform in more than five clinical areas including Hip, Knee, Spine, Bariatrics, Maternity Care, Gynecology, Endoscopy, Prostatectomy, and Colorectal - a patient shared, “I think this was a brilliant idea. When you've had major surgery, you don't really know what you should be feeling from day to day and it’s comforting to feel like you're touching base with your care team without feeling like a nuisance by calling too often.”

As Dr. Haller Smith at the UAB Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology shares, “The response we’ve received about SeamlessMD from our patients and staff have been overwhelmingly positive. Patients have consistently reported greater satisfaction with their surgical experience, having convenient access to an extensive educational library helping to improve patient self-management.”

Clinical teams can also use Digital Care Journeys to automate the collection of data on patient activity and engagement, validated surveys (e.g. PROMIS), and patient-reported outcomes (PROs) such as pain scores or opioid use, which helps assess patients’ experiences and perceptions of their health care. This too enables a health care system to meet certain CMS requirements, such as collecting PROMs data from a minimum percentage of hip and knee replacement patients as part of their mandatory bundled payments.

In a study, Atrium Health observed 93% patient adoption and 88% in-hospital patient engagement with a digital care platform as well as a 62% patient completion of PRO on quality of life, postoperative pain, nausea, opioid consumption, and compliance to Enhanced Recovery After Surgery pathway items. The study concluded that PRO collection through integrated platforms that are accessible on everyday devices lead to comprehensive perioperative care, patient-initiated outcome tracking with automatic reporting, and real-time feedback for process change, ultimately improving resource utilization for all patients.

Mortality

Mortality rate as a metric is a strong indicator of a health care providers' ability to stabilize a patient's condition following surgery or another procedure. With pre-built, interactive Digital Care Journeys that are customized to address specific requirements, patients and providers are both equipped with the tools to help reduce post-surgery complications and resulting mortality. 

This includes self-management strategies for patients aimed at improving diet and cholesterol levels, exercise levels, and ongoing recovery management and enabling care teams to continue to remotely monitor at-risk patients more closely.

For instance, remote patient monitoring through digital platforms has improved the quality of life for individuals undergoing cardiac electrophysiology procedures with multiple positive outcomes, including early detection of atrial fibrillation (AF) and reduction in inappropriate shocks from ICD which further lead to a decrease in mortality. 

Additionally, recurrent hospital admission is a cause of concern, especially in the older population and studies indicate that each hospital readmission increases the risks of further hospital readmissions and death. For instance, Interstitial lung disease (ILD) is associated with significant morbidity and mortality, and early readmission after hospitalization increases both short-term and long term mortality.

Rigorous remote monitoring and connecting the patient to the doctor for timely interventions through Digital Care Journeys has exceptional impact on readmissions across surgical lines - Atrium Health saw a 100% decrease in overall mortality for patients undergoing colorectal surgery, a 56% decrease in 30-day mortality for pancreases and Liver surgery patients, and an 89% reduction in 30-day mortality for pancreases surgery patients only. 

Effectiveness of care

Effectiveness of care metric evaluates two things: compliance with best practice care guidelines (for instance, how many patients receive recommended hospital care for specific conditions, such as heart attack), and achieved outcomes (e.g., lower readmission rates for heart failure patients). 

Digital Care Journeys enable healthcare providers to standardize care across the healthcare system, which means that a patient’s care journey within a hospital, or from one hospital to another within the same healthcare network, would be uninterrupted - they can receive the same education materials, same protocols and processes followed by different physicians, and the same patient experience and enable improved outcomes. 

For instance, readmissions after Coronary Artery Bypass Graft (CABG) surgery is a nationally monitored metric, with patients getting readmitted primarily for three things: Arrhythmias, Tachycardia and heart failure symptoms (shortness of breath, weight gain, or sternal wound complications). Digital health tools enable care teams to monitor patients a bit more closely over the first two to three weeks post discharge for these. Or when patients report an elevated heart rate, care teams can initiate early intervention like ordering an EKG or adjust medications if they realize the patient is actually in rate-controlled atrial fibrillation.

At University Hospitals Harrington Heart & Vascular Institute, use of Digital Care Journeys helped reduce readmissions from 14.5% to below 10% - well within the prescribed 12% by the CMS registry.

Other benefits

Apart from achieving the above key quality metrics and several other aspects of health care delivery, creating an infrastructure that uses data to drive decision-making, fostering employee satisfaction, and reducing per capita expenses also rest on a Chief Quality Officer’s plate.

Improved data Collection

Leading health care systems and hospitals are adopting digital patient engagement platforms like Digital Care Journeys to support these goals. For instance, a robust Digital Care Journey solution helps provide substantial and consistent analytics and data reports to help measure ongoing success and facilitate quality improvements.

Additionally, digital technology solutions that integrate with existing Electronic Health Records (EHRs) help provide a more connected healthcare platform, easily accessible real-time data, and efficient information sharing within and outside the health system.

Reduced staff burden

In the face of continuing staffing shortages and burnout, the implementation of remote patient monitoring solutions like Digital Care Journeys also helps enhance care team satisfaction by optimizing processes and patient engagement in a health system. When patients have access to digital patient education that can be accessed 24/7 this reduces workload burden by decreasing avoidable phone calls and ED visits. 

For instance, University Hospitals were able to reduce phone calls by 59% through the use of Digital Care Journeys. “Phone call volumes can overwhelm staff and negatively impact operational efficiencies; by providing patients with the tools to effectively self-manage from home, patients are less likely to require multiple follow-up phone calls. The implementation of SeamlessMD has led to a reduction in phone calls, contributing to improved staff satisfaction and clinical operations,” explained Dr. Gregory Rushing, Division of Cardiac Surgery, University Hospitals. 

Reduced costs

Finally, investing in digital patient engagement solutions helps reduce in-patient costs through improved clinical outcomes. CMS recently revealed that in FY 2022, 82% of US hospitals had a readmissions penalty; and according to a recent study, readmission is one of the costliest episodes to treat in the United States, with annual costs reaching $41.3 billion for 30-day readmissions.

Digital Care Journey platforms like SeamlessMD have shown to reduce hospital costs by $8,100 per patient, average total cost by 6.7%, and average labor cost by 11.5% for specific surgery lines; while turnkey EHR integration streamlines workflows and reduces manual paperwork processing within the patient chart, reducing overarching operational costs.

Summary

Ultimately, quality of care means valuing the same things that patients value - being cared for effectively and with empathy, going back home to their loved ones sooner, avoiding readmission or preventable incidents, and recovering quickly. While the quality metrics used by hospitals are complex and numerous, they are fundamentally focused on these same goals. 

Digital Care Journeys are a powerful tool for keeping patient-centricity and value based care at the forefront of your healthcare strategy and achieve health care transformation. SeamlessMD continues to collaborate with hospitals across North America to enable providers to meet the highest quality of care and better engage patients both inside and outside the hospital.

To see firsthand how a Digital Care Journey platform works and can align with your organizational strategy, request a demo or email us at info@seamless.md.

How Digital Care Journeys Help Chief Quality Officers Achieve Key Quality Metrics

Posted by:
Suneha Dutta
on
June 8, 2023

Quality is a key priority in healthcare delivery. Even more so as the drive towards value-based healthcare nudges organizations to evaluate their operations and strategies in ensuring patients receive the highest-quality care.

Many health care organizations are looking to Chief Quality Officers to spearhead initiatives that ensure fulfillment of key quality metrics and quality improvement efforts. However, there’s no universal definition of “quality”, which means a Chief Quality Officer is often looking at several aspects of care delivery, including improving patient safety and experience, staff satisfaction, and clinical and operational efficiencies, all while driving down costs.

Over the past few years, digital health solutions like Digital Care Journeys have emerged as an effective digital tool in the health care industry that not only helps achieve better clinical outcomes such as reduced length of stay, readmission, ED visits, and mortality, but also enhances quality of care by improving patient engagement, increasing access to healthcare, reducing burden on frontline staff, and enabling better data collection to further optimize healthcare delivery. 

While the benefits and potential of Digital Care Journeys as a digital health tool are many, here’s a look at some specific Quality Metrics and strategies that can be supported by Digital Care Journeys.

Key Quality Metrics Digital Care Journeys can Help Achieve

With countless quality measures Quality Officers could look at, how do they decide which ones to measure? Most select quality metrics based on their organization’s needs, reporting requirements of regulatory agencies (e.g. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services [CMS]), commercial payers, as well as accrediting bodies (e.g. the Joint Commission).

Here’s how Digital Care Journeys can help achieve and improve a few commonly used quality metrics.

Readmissions and length of stay (LOS)

Finding the optimal length of stay and preventing readmission are important metrics for both patients and health care systems. Lower 30-day readmission rates indicate higher care quality, and it is one of the five areas of quality measured by the CMS for the Overall Hospital Quality Star Rating.

By leveraging app-based Digital Care Journeys, leading hospitals are revamping their readmissions prevention strategy, as well as streamlining processes that support earlier discharge, aka reduced length of stay.

Patients are prompted through pre- and post-care processes via just-in-time education and condition-specific, automated reminders regarding their mobility, medication, nutrition, diet, etc., daily check-ins, and to-do lists.

While helping patients meet pre-surgery milestones increases referral to surgery or surgical throughput, these digital tools also enable earlier discharge and more effective recovery; in post-surgery, patients can self-report data such as vital signs, pain scores, symptoms, and range-of-motion, and share photos of their wounds and incisions through these platforms remotely. 

Providers can monitor patients via dashboards and alerts, receive real-time data to watch out for early warning signs of complications (e.g. fever, surgical incision issues), thereby reducing readmissions, ED visits, and phone calls.

For instance, with the use of Digital Care Journeys, Baystate Health saw a 72% reduction in 30-day readmissions and 69% reduction in observation stays, while the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) saw a 2-day decrease in LOS

As Cheryl Crisafi MSN, RN, CNL, Nurse Coordinator at Baystate Heart & Vascular Center, shares “SeamlessMD has been critical for our readmissions prevention strategy, allowing our care teams to monitor patients at home and catch complications earlier. Most importantly, patients love the SeamlessMD experience! Patients feel connected to our team every step of the way, even when they are at home.” 

Patient experience 

Patient experience, which has a direct correlation with patient safety outcomes, is one of the key quality metrics measured by the Leapfrog Group to assign safety grades to general hospitals in the US, as well as by other regulatory bodies. According to the CMS, patient experience covers several aspects, including: 

  • whether patients reported that they were given information about what to do during their recovery at home and 
  • how aware they were about their care journey and self-management. 

With Digital Care Journeys, providers can ensure patients are able to easily access evidence-based education libraries 24/7 on their everyday devices (smartphone, tablets or computers, etc.) along with automated reminders and surveys to track their recovery progress. These personalized learning pathways empower patients to take control of their own care.

At UAB Medicine, 93% of patients said that the Digital Care Journey platform helped them feel more confident post procedure; and at Multicare - which implemented the platform in more than five clinical areas including Hip, Knee, Spine, Bariatrics, Maternity Care, Gynecology, Endoscopy, Prostatectomy, and Colorectal - a patient shared, “I think this was a brilliant idea. When you've had major surgery, you don't really know what you should be feeling from day to day and it’s comforting to feel like you're touching base with your care team without feeling like a nuisance by calling too often.”

As Dr. Haller Smith at the UAB Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology shares, “The response we’ve received about SeamlessMD from our patients and staff have been overwhelmingly positive. Patients have consistently reported greater satisfaction with their surgical experience, having convenient access to an extensive educational library helping to improve patient self-management.”

Clinical teams can also use Digital Care Journeys to automate the collection of data on patient activity and engagement, validated surveys (e.g. PROMIS), and patient-reported outcomes (PROs) such as pain scores or opioid use, which helps assess patients’ experiences and perceptions of their health care. This too enables a health care system to meet certain CMS requirements, such as collecting PROMs data from a minimum percentage of hip and knee replacement patients as part of their mandatory bundled payments.

In a study, Atrium Health observed 93% patient adoption and 88% in-hospital patient engagement with a digital care platform as well as a 62% patient completion of PRO on quality of life, postoperative pain, nausea, opioid consumption, and compliance to Enhanced Recovery After Surgery pathway items. The study concluded that PRO collection through integrated platforms that are accessible on everyday devices lead to comprehensive perioperative care, patient-initiated outcome tracking with automatic reporting, and real-time feedback for process change, ultimately improving resource utilization for all patients.

Mortality

Mortality rate as a metric is a strong indicator of a health care providers' ability to stabilize a patient's condition following surgery or another procedure. With pre-built, interactive Digital Care Journeys that are customized to address specific requirements, patients and providers are both equipped with the tools to help reduce post-surgery complications and resulting mortality. 

This includes self-management strategies for patients aimed at improving diet and cholesterol levels, exercise levels, and ongoing recovery management and enabling care teams to continue to remotely monitor at-risk patients more closely.

For instance, remote patient monitoring through digital platforms has improved the quality of life for individuals undergoing cardiac electrophysiology procedures with multiple positive outcomes, including early detection of atrial fibrillation (AF) and reduction in inappropriate shocks from ICD which further lead to a decrease in mortality. 

Additionally, recurrent hospital admission is a cause of concern, especially in the older population and studies indicate that each hospital readmission increases the risks of further hospital readmissions and death. For instance, Interstitial lung disease (ILD) is associated with significant morbidity and mortality, and early readmission after hospitalization increases both short-term and long term mortality.

Rigorous remote monitoring and connecting the patient to the doctor for timely interventions through Digital Care Journeys has exceptional impact on readmissions across surgical lines - Atrium Health saw a 100% decrease in overall mortality for patients undergoing colorectal surgery, a 56% decrease in 30-day mortality for pancreases and Liver surgery patients, and an 89% reduction in 30-day mortality for pancreases surgery patients only. 

Effectiveness of care

Effectiveness of care metric evaluates two things: compliance with best practice care guidelines (for instance, how many patients receive recommended hospital care for specific conditions, such as heart attack), and achieved outcomes (e.g., lower readmission rates for heart failure patients). 

Digital Care Journeys enable healthcare providers to standardize care across the healthcare system, which means that a patient’s care journey within a hospital, or from one hospital to another within the same healthcare network, would be uninterrupted - they can receive the same education materials, same protocols and processes followed by different physicians, and the same patient experience and enable improved outcomes. 

For instance, readmissions after Coronary Artery Bypass Graft (CABG) surgery is a nationally monitored metric, with patients getting readmitted primarily for three things: Arrhythmias, Tachycardia and heart failure symptoms (shortness of breath, weight gain, or sternal wound complications). Digital health tools enable care teams to monitor patients a bit more closely over the first two to three weeks post discharge for these. Or when patients report an elevated heart rate, care teams can initiate early intervention like ordering an EKG or adjust medications if they realize the patient is actually in rate-controlled atrial fibrillation.

At University Hospitals Harrington Heart & Vascular Institute, use of Digital Care Journeys helped reduce readmissions from 14.5% to below 10% - well within the prescribed 12% by the CMS registry.

Other benefits

Apart from achieving the above key quality metrics and several other aspects of health care delivery, creating an infrastructure that uses data to drive decision-making, fostering employee satisfaction, and reducing per capita expenses also rest on a Chief Quality Officer’s plate.

Improved data Collection

Leading health care systems and hospitals are adopting digital patient engagement platforms like Digital Care Journeys to support these goals. For instance, a robust Digital Care Journey solution helps provide substantial and consistent analytics and data reports to help measure ongoing success and facilitate quality improvements.

Additionally, digital technology solutions that integrate with existing Electronic Health Records (EHRs) help provide a more connected healthcare platform, easily accessible real-time data, and efficient information sharing within and outside the health system.

Reduced staff burden

In the face of continuing staffing shortages and burnout, the implementation of remote patient monitoring solutions like Digital Care Journeys also helps enhance care team satisfaction by optimizing processes and patient engagement in a health system. When patients have access to digital patient education that can be accessed 24/7 this reduces workload burden by decreasing avoidable phone calls and ED visits. 

For instance, University Hospitals were able to reduce phone calls by 59% through the use of Digital Care Journeys. “Phone call volumes can overwhelm staff and negatively impact operational efficiencies; by providing patients with the tools to effectively self-manage from home, patients are less likely to require multiple follow-up phone calls. The implementation of SeamlessMD has led to a reduction in phone calls, contributing to improved staff satisfaction and clinical operations,” explained Dr. Gregory Rushing, Division of Cardiac Surgery, University Hospitals. 

Reduced costs

Finally, investing in digital patient engagement solutions helps reduce in-patient costs through improved clinical outcomes. CMS recently revealed that in FY 2022, 82% of US hospitals had a readmissions penalty; and according to a recent study, readmission is one of the costliest episodes to treat in the United States, with annual costs reaching $41.3 billion for 30-day readmissions.

Digital Care Journey platforms like SeamlessMD have shown to reduce hospital costs by $8,100 per patient, average total cost by 6.7%, and average labor cost by 11.5% for specific surgery lines; while turnkey EHR integration streamlines workflows and reduces manual paperwork processing within the patient chart, reducing overarching operational costs.

Summary

Ultimately, quality of care means valuing the same things that patients value - being cared for effectively and with empathy, going back home to their loved ones sooner, avoiding readmission or preventable incidents, and recovering quickly. While the quality metrics used by hospitals are complex and numerous, they are fundamentally focused on these same goals. 

Digital Care Journeys are a powerful tool for keeping patient-centricity and value based care at the forefront of your healthcare strategy and achieve health care transformation. SeamlessMD continues to collaborate with hospitals across North America to enable providers to meet the highest quality of care and better engage patients both inside and outside the hospital.

To see firsthand how a Digital Care Journey platform works and can align with your organizational strategy, request a demo or email us at info@seamless.md.

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