The Impact of Patient Education and Satisfaction on Outcomes
Partner News | Published: Monday, July 12, 2021
With the move toward quality-based care as a means of defining success and reimbursement, cardiovascular conditions have come under intense scrutiny. Since the implementation of the Hospital Readmission Reduction Program (HRRP) in 2012, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) continue to financially penalize hospitals with higher-than-average risk-adjusted readmission rates for certain cardiac conditions. In addition to the HRRP, the inclusion of patient satisfaction as a quality measure has become more common. In light of the recent adoption of programs such as pay-for-performance, bundled care units, HCAHPS, along with the HRRP, it is clear that clinician pay and hospital reimbursement are inextricably tied to patient satisfaction and outcomes.1
Positive correlations with patient satisfaction and outcomes have been demonstrated in MI and CHF patients. Among MI patients, higher patient satisfaction was associated with fewer inpatient deaths and higher hospital adherence to American Heart Association MI guidelines. Similarly, higher patient satisfaction was associated with lower 30-day readmissions among both CHF and MI patients. 2
Another important correlation is that between patient satisfaction and patient education. Patients who are well informed about their condition and treatment are more likely to trust the healthcare system and be satisfied with their care. Gallup research shows there is a positive relationship between patient education and post-surgery outcomes.3 A study by Dr. Matteo Fabbri and colleagues at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester concludes that patients with low health literacy have a nearly two-fold higher risk of death, and a 30% increased likelihood of hospitalization.4
The National Academy of Medicine estimates that 90 million American adults have limited health literacy, which is associated with higher rates of hospitalization and higher use of emergency services and can result in billions of dollars in avoidable healthcare costs. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates 5.7 million adults in the U.S. have heart failure, a condition that costs $30.7 billion each year in medicines, healthcare services and lost productivity.5 With falling coronary heart disease (CHD) mortality rates due to advancements in care, an increasing number of people live with CHD and may need support to manage their symptoms and improve prognosis. This is where patient education becomes a measurable factor.
As healthcare providers and healthcare marketers recognize the undeniable benefits of improving health literacy and outcomes through effective patient education, more easily understandable and efficient methods of disseminating information are required.6 This means providers should review their patient education programs, strategies, and platforms to analyze how they can improve the patient experience. Providers need to consider the enormous importance of digital tools, easy access for patients, options for printed and online material, and cohesive, but simple, content. The face of patient education is changing. Resources need to be presented in laymen’s terms to communicate in a way that’s understandable and impactful for all patients.2
Healthcare providers have developed and implemented a number of programs to educate and support patients and their families. The goals of these programs range from providing specific information about postoperative recovery to improving long-term compliance with treatment regimens. A wide variety of media (e.g., print, video, web-based training, and personal communication) are used to achieve these goals.7 Because patient education programs require expenditure of human and financial resources, a carefully planned program with effective tools is critical, and not all tools are created equal. While many industry stakeholders have been wary of the burden technology could place on patient-provider interactions, physicians are beginning to realize that technology can also enable patient relationships. High-quality digital patient education has been proven to3:
- Be more easily understood by patients
- Is more easily remembered and shared
- Allows doctors to show, not tell
- Improves patients’ perception of care
It is in the interest of patients and healthcare systems alike to deliver effective patient education to improve patient satisfaction. According to an online article in Nursing2021, “Someday reimbursement to healthcare facilities may include providing proof of properly educating patients. So, providers need to perfect the delivery of patient education in order to increase patient satisfaction, patient care, and hospital reimbursements.” It’s time to evaluate the efficacy of these programs and create a new standard in patient education.