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2 Signs that a Hospital is Properly Engaging Its Patients

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This week, we’ve been detailing various aspects of an organization’s operations that you should examine before accepting a position with it. As we wrap up this series, another question to ask is, How does a hospital stay connected with its patients post-discharge?

As Joe Lamantia, chief operating officer and executive vice president of administration at South Nassau Communities Hospital in Oceanside, N.Y., told me in a recent interview for Healthcare Executive Exchange Magazine, population health demands a new level of responsibility for engaging a hospital’s patients even after their care has ended.

Here then are two signs that an organization is properly engaging its patients:

1. The hospital takes a proactive approach to following up with patients post-discharge.

Lamantia has been focusing on South Nassau’s clinical service lines as one way of enhancing patient engagement. For example, these efforts include patients within the cardiology program who are being treated for heart failure.

Lamantia said his team educates patients about their condition throughout their stay and follows up with them 24 hours, 30 days, and then three months after discharge. But the most important component in this relationship has been the integration of home care.

Home-care personnel become involved prior to the patient’s discharge and are fully briefed on what the patient’s care team would like to achieve post-discharge.

“So when the patient goes home, the patients are hearing a lot of the same dialogue that took place in the hospital regarding their illness,” Lamantia said. “The home-care nurse is now a continued extension of the education that occurred at the hospital.”

2. The hospital harnesses the good will of its successful patients to educate new patients on its programs.

Grateful patient programs are also important to South Nassau, Lamantia said. “There are patients who have suffered for a long time and now they’re healed and want to talk about it. So there’s a good opportunity to bring those patients back into the organization to have them meet with prospective patients, especially for the elective surgeries. They become champions of the program.”

For example, every other Thursday, South Nassau’s joint replacement program holds an education class for prospective joint replacement patients. During this meeting, they not only have the opportunity to meet everyone involved in their care, but they also have the opportunity to hear a past patient speak about their experiences with the program.

Lamantia said these initiatives seek to carry out South Nassau’s desire to provide patients, both pre- and post-discharge, with exemplary customer service.

“I think focusing on service has always been important,” he said. “Hospitals try to distinguish themselves from one another not only based upon the technology or the facilities or the investments they make in the staff, but in how the patients perceive the organization from a service standpoint.”

As physicians and advanced practitioners looking for jobs, what is your philosophy about staying in touch with a patient post-discharge? What kind of post-discharge program would you want an employer to have?

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