Tools that Support Cardiology Patient Engagement

2015-02-20
 

Tools for Cardiology Patient Engagement A recent report from the American Heart Association, ACC and other professional healthcare organizations highlights the importance of shared accountability when it comes to patient care and outcomes. The groups maintain that as cardiologists and other clinicians are increasingly evaluated based on performance measurements, the role that patients take regarding their own care should have weight.

Incorporating the performance of both physicians and patients can support patient-centered outcomes. Cardiology tools that facilitate patient engagement and help improve communication between health team members will become increasingly important in a shared-accountability environment.

Workflows that Keep Providers Informed

Keeping cardiologists and referring physicians informed about tests results, labs, and other data allows them to better work together to care for patients. Workflows, such as QICS for Critical Results Reporting, can automate alerts when critical results are found and help eliminate time-consuming tasks, such as writing and sending emails, and help the healthcare team stay up-to-date on test results. For example, if a patient has undergone a CCT and cardiac calcification amounts are found to be critical, automated alerts send the patient’s physicians updates via their preferred communication, whether SMS, email, pager, phone or popup, and it launches CCT images.

Cardiology workflows continue to be of value when they track data and include real-time dashboards and historical statistics. The cardiology team and referring physician have clarity on what care the patient has had previously, so they can better work to develop an updated care plan. They may decide upon an interventional treatment, such as a stent, and work with the patient to lose weight and quit smoking, which requires a high level of patient engagement.

Solutions that Integrate with EMRs

As cardiologists look to share accountability with patients, they’re likely seeking ways for patients to feel empowered about their care. For example, if a patient believes he is destined for heart failure because of family history, he may initially believe that healthy lifestyle changes are a waste of time. Working with his cardiologist and primary care provider to lose weight, eat healthier and take his statins as directed are vital to his outcome. If the patient is able to access his electronic medical record (EMR) and see how his cholesterol levels and blood pressure drop over time, his patient engagement may be reinforced.

When cardiology data, images and other related data are integrated with and available in patients’ EMRs, patients are able to share it with their loved ones if they choose. Seeing medical data can help family members to better understand the patient’s health goals and treatment, so they are more likely to support lifestyle changes.

Tools that Promote Access

Another tool that supports shared accountability is technology that allows physicians to have anytime, anywhere access to patient data. Many cardiologists work at multiple locations, and when they have the patient data they need, they are better able to communicate with their patients and foster patient engagement. Technology today can allow cardiologists and other practitioners to obtain secure access to cardiology images and reports, including echo, vascular, cath, EP, nuclear medicine test results and more. Web-based access facilitates communication with referring physicians, so they too can work to improve patient engagement.

“[It] is important to engage everyone that can have an impact on these goals including patients, family members or caregivers, clinicians, and the healthcare system,” said Eric D. Peterson, M.D., of the Duke Clinical Research Institute, in the AHA report. “Shared-accountability performance measures explicitly acknowledge these interdependencies so that everyone can work together towards the improved health of the patient.”

As more health systems measure physician performance, physicians may call for shared accountability with patients. Tools that facilitate better communication between cardiologists and referring physicians, automate alerts so the healthcare team stays informed, and boost patient engagement will help support shared accountability and promote positive patient outcomes as well.

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