By Karen Brown, RN
Building life-long patient / health system relationships is a complex process in today’s environment of shorter hospital stays and increased outpatient services. It requires on-going consistent efforts and hardwired behavior over the full spectrum of provider settings and interactions. Today, the patient is moving between various outpatient service providers and there is less time and opportunity to form those bonding personal relationships. To further complicate the process, the patient is now tasked to be empowered and responsible for their own healthcare! This empowerment may lead to fear, frustration, and ultimately healthcare shopping to find the provider who delivers the most support.
Medically complex patients are at risk of mismanaging their treatments without home support. Home monitoring and other home interventions are a solution for care and offer the opportunity to develop lasting relationships. After all, home is where the majority of care and medical management is delivered. Home Health Services providers are in a valuable position to represent the healthcare system and form a memorable relationship with the patient. Because those services are typically short term or many patients may not even have these services, telephone visits with a caring nurse can be an on-going, powerful, and cost effective solution.
Where is a patient more relaxed and able to learn about their condition than in their own home? Having a nurse advice line to access when there are concerning symptoms or questions, gives the patient confidence that they are safe in their home with a healthcare professional always available. Or, knowing that “my nurse” is going to call and help the patient through their treatment plan on scheduled days motivates patient compliance and tells the patient that the healthcare system really cares. Real relationships, that represent the healthcare system, are formed with these phone visits.
At TeamHealth Medical Call Center we find that over 60% of symptomatic callers, who told us that they would have gone to the ED had they not called the nurse advice line, are referred to lower levels of care or their symptoms are resolved with home care advice. Fifteen percent of post discharged patients within the first 48 hours of discharge required a nurse intervention to ensure compliance with the post discharge plan of care. Effective telephonic nursing is an art and a science, requiring special communication and assessment skills to provide measurable results. As an outsourced call center representing many large prestigious healthcare organizations, our talented nurses are focused on this type of interaction.
While Nurse Triage and patient engagement calls provide impressive and measurable cost containment, the caring nurses who develop personal warm relationships present the face of the organization and the message of caring to patients and their families. It is this caring and personal interaction that builds long-term patient / provider relationships.
Karen Brown, RN, is the VP of Business Development for TeamHealth Medical Call Center.