In an ideal world, every patient who enters rehab emerges stronger and healthier, fully healed and never returns for the same issue again. Although that’s the case for a large number of patients, some continue to struggle — despite the high level of care your staff provides. Unfortunately, poor outcomes can affect your reimbursement level and your reputation. If your hospital rehab departments could stand to improve patient outcomes, consider implementing these five strategies.
1. Make Patient-Centered Care a Priority
In the past, patients ceded all control of their care to doctors and therapists who devised treatment plans without any input from the patient. When patients didn’t agree with the plan or didn’t understand why certain therapies or medications were important, they were less likely to be compliant.
Patients are an integral part of the decision-making process in the patient-centered care model. They’re given detailed information on their diagnoses in easy-to-understand language and presented with several treatment options. Although physicians and therapists offer guidance, clarification and advice, they no longer dictate the course of treatment.
Because patients are invested in the decisions, they’re more likely to work harder in rehab and follow through with aftercare recommendations, which will help improve outcomes. As a plus, it also helps boost patient satisfaction scores.
2. Don’t Skimp on Equipment
It’s often difficult to justify buying an expensive piece of equipment when the current version gets the job done, even if it doesn’t offer the latest innovations. While it may be true that the equipment performs adequately, newer models may be more user-friendly or efficient, which can help recovery times and outcomes. If the rehab departments at other local hospitals use the latest rehab technology, your outcome rates may suffer in comparison if you use outdated or inefficient equipment.
3. Hire the Best Staff Members
Many hospitals live by the words “lean and mean.” Unfortunately, small personnel budgets and salary constraints often mean that the best PT candidates go elsewhere. Without stellar employees, your department can’t produce the results hospital administration expects.
Staff members who are personable, patient, innovative and experienced keep your rehab department strong and competitive and are the key to improving patient outcomes.
4. Stay Abreast of Innovative Tools and Methods
Things tend to change rapidly in healthcare, and if you don’t stay on top of the latest innovations, you’ll quickly find yourself wondering what happened to all of your patients. Make sure you don’t fall behind by:
Subscribing to and finding the time to read professional journals and research studies
Making training a priority when you create your next budget
Encouraging staff to participate in professional organizations
Attending conferences and seminars to keep up with the latest developments
5. Focus on Discharge Instructions
You know that a positive outcome depends on patients following your therapist’s discharge instructions, but patients often don’t realize the importance of those instructions. Once rehab is over, some may soon stop performing exercises or following other instructions because they assume that they’re not really necessary.
How long does the average discharge session take? If it’s over in 10 minutes or less, patients may not truly understand why the instructions are so important. Explaining how they’ll benefit from the instructions, and what may happen if they don’t, can boost compliance and improve outcomes.
Making the patient experience the focus of your rehab program offers a simple, effective way to improve positive outcomes. When you offer detailed information about treatments, hire sympathetic therapists and provide innovative treatment options, patients are likely to become more invested in their care.