It may seem like an odd spot to press into, but patient compliance has everything to do with health outcomes, cost containment, and how healthcare will function in the future. As a health technology vendor, we understand this critical aspect of the care continuum, and all efforts to connect are for naught if patients are unable (much less unwilling, which we assert is rare despite industry assumptions) to comply with provider instructions. We have no problem “staying in our lane,” letting providers determine how, when, and why patients should follow certain care plans, but where we have to insert ourselves is in seeing how difficult it is for providers – all providers on the care team – to be effective in reinforcing the overall, holistic plan of care for the patient given disconnected communication methods.
If we expect healthcare providers to effectively manage their patients a la “person-centered technology” (spoiler alert: we think this is a good idea), we need to ensure that the technology solutions out there meet providers where they are and include insights and care plans from everyone from PCP to PT!
Democratize the Full View of Patients with Better Communication Tools
It’s hard to bemoan the prevailing pain point of healthcare data living in siloes when we consider that many providers, specialties, and facilities function as siloes. Form follows function, so while we can make solid attempts at enabling interoperability, establishing HIEs, and even expanding the reach of resources like Carequality, until we break down the mindset that providers need only function in their relative specialty (while PCPs are saddled with expectations to be wizards of all-the-things), we will struggle to make meaningful progress by treating this as a technology problem first.
In order for patients to receive optimal care, they’re likely going to have to interact with more than one provider. And we use the term “provider” very intentionally here; it isn’t just MDs driving the care experience. When you consider that the post-acute care sector is booming in the wake of COVID and an increasingly aged population, we have to remember that healthcare providers come in many shapes and sizes…and so do their relative technologies.
Beyond Acute Care to Reach the Full Patient Experience
Continuing to treat only acute care as the space where all the magic happens, we are missing out on rich, meaningful data captured by less-traditional healthcare providers. If we focus on Physical Therapy (PT), we can see how vital the exercises and activities prescribed by therapy providers are to the patient’s overall ability to get and stay well. Failing to recover from an injury or illness usually means more medical intervention, not less. So, where we have a tendency to give a ton of attention (and therefore resources) to hospitals and EDs, we forget that this is just the first step of a path to wholeness for the patient. If we perceive patients as humans with families, jobs, and as part of a community, we realize we cannot afford to drop the ball after discharge on even one patient.
Post-acute providers such as those working in PT absolutely need better tools, but they also need better visibility to support their incredibly important role in getting patients back on their feet…sometimes quite literally.
Why Physical Therapy Data Matters to Everyone
When a PCP or Specialist has access to information from Physical Therapy providers, the ability for true, active collaboration is unlocked. For a patient presenting to another office to receive check-ins regarding their PT plan and challenges adhering to or executing that plan, this creates a sense of a healthcare system that cares about their whole well-being…not just the body part, system, or condition under evaluation by the respective provider. What this also enables is for providers to communicate back to the therapy care team what they heard and saw from the patient, potentially identifying a crucial opportunity to close a gap or meet a need to drive compliance and ultimately (everyone’s goal) healing!
With all providers working on the same team, sharing information and focusing on holistic healthcare, patients are empowered to stick to the PT plan via reinforcement, repetition, and a renewed sense of importance. This is where healthcare communication changes the patient experience and starts to steer our collective jobs toward cultivating optimal human health versus acute disease management.