Patients are the fuel that makes hospitals run, and why they exist. Patients are also a headache for the C-suite.
That is certainly reflected in the HealthLeaders Media 2011 Industry Survey, in which leaders cite patient noncompliance and lack of responsibility as the fifth-greatest driver of healthcare costs at their organizations. A quarter of respondents cited patients as among the top three cost drivers, ahead of health plan overhead, medical devices, pharmaceuticals and malpractice litigation.
The lack of communication between patients and primary care physicians when a patient is discharged from the hospital, for instance, can compromise patient safety, and lead to a return visit to the ED or hospital.
Easing patients' concerns can improve Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and System scores.
Hospitals are investing in programs to promote patient involvement in their own care, saying speed is crucial. Strictly on a health basis, more young people are facing weight issues, and more young people are facing diabetes, while others confront chronic conditions that are adding to patient care issues as well as costs.
Industry stakeholders are also under pressure to adapt behaviors to improve outcomes and contain costs, and none is more integral to the process than patients, says Susan Frampton, president of the Planetree Institute, Derby, CT, a network of hospitals that support patient-centered care.
"Everyone is focusing on patient engagement because it's going to be necessary," says Frampton. "It's the only way we can execute on the concepts of Accountable Care Organizations, or other healthcare initiatives. You can't go very far on any of that without having an engaged, empowered patient. I think the irony is we are struggling to retrofit a system that was set up to disempower patients."