Bob Abrahamson, Chief Marketing Officer
When the jury came back with three guilty verdicts against Derek Chauvin for the death of George Floyd, justice was served; accountability held. As a society, however, we are a long way from achieving racial justice. Analysis to this effect can be read here. Along these lines, this week The Beryl Institute issued A Declaration of Human Experience which calls in part to “acknowledge and dismantle systemic racism and prejudice, tackle disparities and provide the highest-quality, most equitable care possible.” Created in response to the cumulative events of the past year, the full text can be read here. Not that we need reminding, but the numbers are stark regarding how COVD-19 has impacted communities of color.
Transformation is daunting but as the saying goes the best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. This got me thinking about some creative ways in which we could leverage our existing patient engagement tools to advance equity. Here are a few ideas I came up with:
- Using Real Time Feedback to Screen for Social Determinants of Health – Interactive Patient Care Systems (IPS) include surveys that patients can interact with directly via prompts on a television screen. Rounding platforms can be loaded with questionnaires that staff can use with patients as they build rapport during an admission. A screening instrument created by CMS can be accessed here. Opportunities for providing optimal care are improved by fostering patient engagement and in many cases, this means addressing social barriers. Identifying these issues and putting in place strategies prior to discharge increase the chances of better outcomes. Surveying is one piece of the puzzle, but it provides the crucial first step of helping to identify those in need.
- Leveraging Connectivity with Community Based Organizations Connections – With the explosion of telehealth in the past year, health care organizations are using their IPS systems to launch face-to-face interpreter services or consults with remote specialists. Why not arrange to have resources at community based social service organizations available to consult with patients at your facilities and log the interactions in the technology you already have implemented? If you can help make the connections that bridge SDOH barriers before a patient leaves your facilities, it stands to reason that improved patient engagement in care plans will follow.
- Building Trust by Acknowledging the Issue – Consider updating welcome videos and other messaging to acknowledge the existence of implicit bias and how your facilities are working toward equity. Provide patients and families with clear mechanisms through their points of engagement to provide feedback on how you are doing on addressing their unique concerns.
- Facilitating Expansive Engagement of Caregivers – Isolation is a social determinant of health. When patients leave your care, it’s important that they can tap into a support network of their choosing. Providing caregiver access to engagement applications pre-op and post-op can mitigate against isolation. Additionally, casting a wide net may address other barriers a patient faces such as transportation, access to healthy foods, health literacy, etc. Helping patients tap into family, friends, co-workers, fellow parishioners, teammates is another tactic that can help drive equity in your care.
The list above is by no means comprehensive. It represents a few ideas I came up with by taking some time to consider possibilities with the pCare set of solutions. I don’t think any of these are necessarily revolutionary. However, I’m quite sure that if you get a group of committed folks together some truly groundbreaking ideas may emerge. The point, however, is to make a commitment to expand our mindset; to try to raise our awareness of implicit bias in our systems and take steps to create a truly equitable healthcare system. We have a long way to go. Leveraging your patient engagement stack to capture the voice of all stakeholders . . . and being sure to listen and learn . . . should help us move forward.