FEATURE Winning Over Patients through Engagement

Participation leads to better outcomes BY ROBERT KURTZ


ontgomery Surgical Center in Montgomery, Alabama, consid-

ers patient engagement to be a vital component for a successful surgical experience, says Linda Westhoff, RN, CASC, the ASC’s administrator. “It begins at the time the patient is scheduled for surgery and first con- tacted by us, all the way through the postop phone call,” she says. “When patients are involved in their care, we feel it leads to better outcomes, safety and satisfaction.” Engagement can—and should—

take many forms, says Pauline Wil- son, associate vice president of patient relationship solutions for ASC man- agement company Amsurg, based in Nashville, Tennessee. “Engagement is more than com- pleting surveys,” she says. “It can mean awareness of disease progression and prevention, adherence to medica-

tion protocol or showing up for an appointment. If the overarching goal for health care is a healthier popula- tion, then advocating for and enabling patients to participate is a necessary component of reaching that goal. “I also view patent engagement as one of the tools available to be lever- aged to manage health care costs,” Wil- son continues. “As we shift from main- tenance of disease to prevention, patient engagement will prove invaluable.” In addition to quality and financial

factors, ASCs have several other rea- sons to strive to improve their patient engagement efforts, says Marisol Rivera, director of patient experience for SPH Analytics, a provider of ana- lytics solutions for health care provid- ers and payers in Alpharetta, Georgia. “Engagement is one of the best,

proven methods to help ASCs under- stand and identify key areas that are


important to patients,” she says. “It can help physicians and staff learn how they are delivering care and perceived providing that care. When results are positive, they can be used as a market- ing tool demonstrating a high level of patient satisfaction in the community.” Westhoff says that while market- ing benefits are not the impetus behind Montgomery Surgical Center’s patient engagement efforts, they are important to the ASC’s success. “We do not market our surgery center through any advertising or merchandise,” she says. “We rely on patients to be our referral sources. They come back to us, and their fami- lies and friends come to us. When suc- cess as a facility is achieved because of the care you provide, then you know what you are doing is right.” Wilson adds, “More patients are seeking the guidance of friends and family to make determinations about where to obtain care. Patients also provide important feedback, which generates


efficiencies.” Take Action

Successful patient engagement starts with recognizing its importance, Wil- son says. “ASCs should strive to make engagement a priority. How engage- ment is achieved will not look the same for all ASCs or in all markets, but the effort will definitely be rewarded.” Education is a critical element of patient engagement at Montgomery Surgical Center, Westhoff says, and it starts before patients arrive at the ASC. “Education is what we stress during our preop phone calls. We also have a handout with patient rights and responsibilities and an information booklet about the ASC and what to expect during preop, surgery and after surgery that are provided to patients at their physicians’ offices.” When patients are at the surgery

center, family involvement is a focus, she says. “We allow family members

outcomes and

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