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Patient Engagement Tip of the Month

Geri Lynn Baumblatt, MAGeri Lynn Baumblatt MA, For the last 20 years, Geri has worked to help people understand health conditions and procedures, orient them to their diagnoses, make more informed decisions about their care, and partner with their care teams.  She oversaw the creation of the Emmi program library, and she regularly speaks and serves on patient engagement, patient experience, health literacy, shared decision making, health design, family caregiving, and heath communication panels for organizations like AHRQ, the Brookings Institute, Stanford Medicine X, and the Center for Plain Language. She serves on the editorial board for the Journal of Patient Experience, is on the board of the Society for Participatory Medicine, and published a chapter in Transformative Healthcare Practice through Patient Engagement (IGI Global). She currently consults on patient engagement, family caregiving, and health communication. Follow her on Twitter @GeriLynn


Showing all Blog Posts with tag: doctor's appointment View All Blog Posts
Posted: Friday, February 01, 2019

Extending Time With Patients: No Time Travel Needed

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Hannah’s Story
At age 12, I was diagnosed with a chronic condition, and with a second one 11 years later. I’m not unique. According to a 2017 RAND study, 60% of Americans had at least one chronic condition, and 42% had multiple. With decades of patient experience under my belt, I recently had a bump in my health journey. My medications stopped working and I developed new symptoms. I’ve had flares in the past, including 5 surgeries, but this time was different. Now I work full time, I’m married, and mom to a toddler. Flaring this time meant missing work, hospitalization, weekly appointments, guilt and depression.
 
What struck me most was how there wasn’t time to discuss these life stressors with my doctors. It was important for them to know how my life was being impacted, and how my life may be impacting my illnesses. It was also important that my multiple specialists understood each others’ recommendations and treatment plans - and that I get connected with resources.
 
While clinicians want to be collaborative,15 minutes makes it difficult. People need to feel they trust their clinician, but they often need resources beyond the encounter, too.
 
Help patients prepare for their visit.
Be specific! Beyond current symptoms and medications, help patients prioritize questions or concerns that may be outside the traditional conversation about their illness. For example, could your office send a few questions for people to fill out in advance? These could be personal, life-related questions that can be uncomfortable to bring up or answer off the cuff when face to face. How is your health affecting your work? ...hobbies? ...relationships? And vice versa? This way, you can hone in on important topics that can really impact their life, wellbeing, and their ability to follow a new treatment plan.
 
Then, extend your time and reach.
Most people can benefit from resources or community health connections. But this takes time and often some research.



This is when you can lean on health educators and health education specialists. Separate from RNs and clinical staff, who have set duties in a practice, health educators are trained to focus on how people can best understand what’s needed to care for their condition(s), incorporating learning theories and health literacy best practices. With backgrounds in public health and education, they can help bridge the gap by providing what you’d like to be able to give to your patients (resources and a confirmed understanding of conditions and care).
  • In a health system, ask about the availability of health educators to support you.
  • In a private practice, when thinking about new roles, consider a health educator or those with a public health background when creating job descriptions.
We’re all working towards more positive provider-patient relationships. It’s challenging, for both sides, to keep a firm grip on all the details while still trying to stay hopeful. Continuing to work together and continuing to better understand each other's perspectives will help create a path to get us there.
 
 

Hannah Herrington has a Master in Public Health, concentrating in Behavioral Science and Education. She is Certified in Public Health and is a Certified Health Education Specialist. As a patient, advocate, and educator, she is working to empower patients and HCPs to work together to successfully navigate the complexities of chronic conditions. hmartin623@gmail.com



Geri Lynn Baumblatt MA, For the last 20 years, Geri has worked to help people understand health conditions and procedures, orient them to their diagnoses, make more informed decisions about their care, and partner with their care teams.  She oversaw the creation of the Emmi program library, and she regularly speaks and serves on patient engagement, patient experience, health literacy, shared decision making, health design, family caregiving, and heath communication panels for organizations like AHRQ, the Brookings Institute, Stanford Medicine X, and the Center for Plain Language. She serves on the editorial board for the Journal of Patient Experience, is on the board of the Society for Participatory Medicine, and published a chapter in Transformative Healthcare Practice through Patient Engagement (IGI Global). She currently consults on patient engagement, family caregiving, and health communication. Follow her on Twitter @GeriLynn
 
 

Tags: patient engagement, communication, doctor's appointment, engagement, experience
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Posted: Monday, December 03, 2018

Do we have a heard mentality?

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By Geri Lynn Baumblatt & Chris Heddon

 

With all the efforts to communicate better with patients— do you ever wonder if they can hear you? Not metaphorically, but literally.

 

Hearing is a baseline essential for engaging in care and navigating the healthcare system, but how often do we take it for granted that patients can hear what we say?

 

Only about 15% of people who need hearing aids have them. We also tend to assume hearing is only an issue for seniors. But over 60% of people with hearing loss are under age 65. And while cost is an issue, so is diagnosis and awareness of the other problems it contributes to.

 

Right now, many people nod along and didn’t quite hear what you said about their medication or follow-up care. They’re embarrassed. Or they think they understood enough and want to move the conversation along, especially if they know you’re pressed for time.

 

 

 

Picking Up on Signs of Hearing Loss

The exam room is usually quiet, so in that setting it may be hard to pick up on hearing loss that isn’t profound. Some clues:

  • Are they having issues with balance and falls? People with a mild (25-decibel) hearing loss are 3 times more likely to have a history of falling. And every10-decibel loss increased the chances of falling by 1.4 fold. So addressing hearing can be a 2-for and map help prevent falls. (Lin, et al, 2012)
  • Do they have trouble hearing you when you’re facing away from them? Even if they can’t lip read, people often supplement auditory information with visual clues.
  • Do they ask fewer questions? They may stop asking if they won't be able to make out the answer.
  • Do they seem less social or more withdrawn? People often stop going to social gatherings and restaurants when they can’t hear well enough to follow or join conversations.

It’s no wonder hearing loss is associated with social isolation in older adults, which also contributes to health problems. Untreated hearing loss is also associated with cognitive decline and diseases of isolation, so higher rates of depression, anxiety, and other psychosocial disorders.

 

With the health risks piling up, why isn’t screening more common?

 

One issue is recognition. Too many seniors and families may see it as “just part of aging.” But there’s also social stigma. People are both embarrassed they may have a disability, and they’re often in denial as a result. It often takes 7 to 10 years from the time that someone first realizes that they have hearing loss to the time that they first get a hearing aid.

 

Helping people adapt to hearing aids

 

Once people get diagnosed and fitted for hearing aids, there are still challenges. Even though hearing aids are now smaller and less noticeable, people still need to adapt to them. It’s important to encourage people to wear them every day for a month. This helps people get used to a new and more “digital” hearing experience. And it gives their brain a chance to remodel around this new information input. Unfortunately, many hearing aids end up in a dresser drawer or returned because people don’t give their brain a chance to acclimate. So follow-up to find out if they’re being used.

 

Only when people can hear well can they be part of the conversation.

 

For more, also check out this brief interview about best practices when talking to someone with hearing loss.

 

 

Chris Heddon, DO is a physician-entrepreneur. He began his career as an anesthesiologist. After years of progressive hearing loss, he left medicine to found Resonance Medical, which developed a clinically validated, artificially intelligent, mobile-based hearing test that was sold to a hearing aid manufacturer in November 2018. @hearresonance



Geri Lynn Baumblatt MA, For the last 20 years, Geri has worked to help people understand health conditions and procedures, orient them to their diagnoses, make more informed decisions about their care, and partner with their care teams.  She oversaw the creation of the Emmi program library, and she regularly speaks and serves on patient engagement, patient experience, health literacy, shared decision making, health design, family caregiving, and heath communication panels for organizations like AHRQ, the Brookings Institute, Stanford Medicine X, and the Center for Plain Language. She serves on the editorial board for the Journal of Patient Experience, is on the board of the Society for Participatory Medicine, and published a chapter in Transformative Healthcare Practice through Patient Engagement (IGI Global). She currently consults on patient engagement, family caregiving, and health communication. Follow her on Twitter @GeriLynn


Tags: patient engagement, communication, doctor's appointment, experience, listening
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Posted: Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Making the Journey Part of Engagement

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ArticlePhoto

Non-Emergency Medical Transportation: A new opportunity for patient engagement


A core challenge health systems and services providers face in patient engagement is attention. Thinking about one’s health care proactively requires thinking about one’s mortality, and who wants to do that?
 
Consequently, most patient engagement and patient experience centers around the few moments when people are required to think about their health: medical appointments, hospitalizations, discharges, and pharmacy visits.
 
Lately, a new touchpoint in the care journey is emerging as an important opportunity to build patient experience and drive greater patient engagement: non-emergency medical transport (NEMT). NEMT is any transportation service for people who aren’t in an emergency situation, but who need more assistance than a taxi service provides. It is a fast-growing segment in the healthcare workflow, where stakeholders can capture the attention of the patient or family member while they are already thinking about their care.

The recent entrance of Lyft and Uber into healthcare, Ford Motors’ GoRide, as well as several venture backed startups such as Circulation Health and RoundTrip provide solutions for the over 3.6M Americans who miss at least one medical appointment each year. The annual cost of missed appointments in the U.S. is $150B (including lost revenues and idle labor). And the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will begin to reimburse NEMT for medicare advantage beneficiaries. This new touchpoint in the healthcare experience is here to stay.
 
There are 3 NEMT opportunities for engagement:
 
1. Scheduling
If stakeholders are able to solve transportation for the patient during appointment scheduling and reminders, the focus of outreach can shift to preparation. Scheduling can transform a neutral process to a positive one, with patients able to focus more on their care. Hospitals could take information from the medical record and send SMS or email reminders along with tailored questions for patients to consider as they get ready for their upcoming appointment. 
 
2. The Departing Trip
The ride itself is a valuable, defined window of opportunity to provide patients with information about their condition, community resource information via their own app, or utilize the NEMT provider app. During the trip, patients and family members could interact with chatbots, or take a call with a healthcare professional to provide basic information to make the appointment more productive, or enable hospital labor to be more effective during the appointment. For example, Circulation is currently rolling out pilots to prove the effectiveness of healthcare engagement during transportation. Patients are a captive audience during these trips, presenting stakeholders with the opportunity to engage them with important healthcare information such as pre- and post-visit data, or content to promote vaccine awareness.
 
3. The Return Trip
The NEMT ride back from an appointment may present an even greater patient engagement opportunity than the ride there.  During this time, patients are in a mindset to reflect, and could digitally record or answer any questions people have. They could review their care plan and go over next steps. After all, how many times have you thought of a really important question after you have left the doctor?
 
Challenges
NEMT is not free of challenges when it comes to engagement. It requires coordinating multiple stakeholders, whether it’s the health system, the NEMT provider, or even the driver, to make the experience work. When it comes to drivers, NEMT requires training a new labor force of transportation drivers that are prepared to provide not just a ride-sharing experience, but a healthcare experience.
 
Creating an effective NEMT patient engagement experience requires both a time and capital investment with results that must be quantified. However, NEMT presents a rare opportunity to create new experiences, and gain valuable information and access from patients while they are in transit.

 

 


Geri Lynn Baumblatt MA, For the last 20 years, Geri has worked to help people understand health conditions and procedures, orient them to their diagnoses, make more informed decisions about their care, and partner with their care teams.  She oversaw the creation of the Emmi program library, and she regularly speaks and serves on patient engagement, patient experience, health literacy, shared decision making, health design, family caregiving, and heath communication panels for organizations like AHRQ, the Brookings Institute, Stanford Medicine X, and the Center for Plain Language. She serves on the editorial board for the Journal of Patient Experience, is on the board of the Society for Participatory Medicine, and published a chapter in Transformative Healthcare Practice through Patient Engagement (IGI Global). She currently consults on patient engagement, family caregiving, and health communication. Follow her on Twitter @GeriLynn


 
Dhruv Vasishtha is a healthcare technologist with experience in early stage mobile, wearable, and AI technology. His experience includes strategy and product management at healthcare companies including Medidata and ZS Associates, as well as founding two health IT startups. He received his MBA from The Wharton School in Health Care Management, and his BA from Columbia University.  He currently invests in and advises healthcare technology startups and is organizing the inaugural Innovation in Caregiving conference. @dvasishtha


Tags: patient engagement, communication, doctor's appointment, experience, healthcare, patient
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Posted: Friday, January 30, 2015

When Patients Befriend Dr. Google

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Co-author: Kerry O’Connell, a construction executive from Denver, CO
For mKerry O'Connellany patients, the Internet becomes their best friend. They spend evenings searching for cures for damaged nerves. When Kerry O’Connell fell off a ladder and destroyed his arm, and when surgeries and treatments failed and made his pain and function even worse, he went, as most of us do, to look for answers online.
 
When showing this online research to his physician, he was advised to be careful as much of that info was not reliable. Fair warning, but when people are searching for answers and trying to collaborate in their care, they’re often dismissed and made to feel like they overstepped.
 
Kerry found out he could access medical journals from the med school library. For his next visit he came armed not with flimsy Google search results, but real studies. His doctor was not impressed, saying even studies from last year were out of date and nowhere near the current state of the medical art.
 

People are searching for a reason

It’s often a sign they feel uneasy and don’t have the answers they need. It’s also an opportunity to find out what those are. In Kerry’s case, he was looking for alternatives to more surgery, drug side effects, better descriptions of typical outcomes, and empathy from others who had gone through the same thing.
 
Anytime we can provide patient-friendly resources that proactively answer these questions, it can help keep people from going down those online rabbit holes.
 
But people can also find meaningful information. Sometimes it’s the empathy and support from connecting with others. Other times, people like Dave deBronkart can find out about a medical treatment for his rare cancer by talking to an online patient forum. A treatment his physicians didn’t know about at the time.
 
As patients and families increasingly turn to online resources, how do you help them find the good ones? And how do you work with them?



Kerry O’Connell is a construction executive from Denver, Colorado, who builds infrastructure by day and lobbies the healthcare industry by night. His favorite causes include infection prevention, medical device training and creating a post-harm standard of care. His articles have appeared in places like Health Affairs, and he regularly provides the patient perspective at conferences like the Summer Institute for Informed Patient Choice.

Tags: patient engagement, doctor's appointment, personal healthcare
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Posted: Friday, September 20, 2013

Be Psychic

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That’s right, when telling people about a procedure or a new diagnosis, it helps to be a little bit psychic. To be fair, you don’t actually have to be psychic, so much as seem psychic.

You probably already know the questions, fears and worries patients have around certain procedures or diagnoses: When is it okay to have sex again? Will my scar be noticeable? When can I drive again?

These questions weigh on people’s minds. And it may even be hard for them to concentrate on anything else you say until they get an answer. Sometimes they feel embarrassed to ask because they have a question about something like ED or depression medication, other times they’re embarrassed that what they’re worried about is something cosmetic, like a scar. Or it’s the real day-to-day concerns about being able to care for their family.

So, if they don’t bring it up themselves, normalize those questions with a simple "now with this procedure, a lot of people ask…" It’s amazing the relief they feel to know they’re not the only ones with this question and that they didn’t have to be the one to bring it up.

Tags: patient engagement, communication, doctor's appointment
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