How to Create a Better Total Joint Patient Journey

Research has found that undergoing any total joint replacement can make patients feel uncertain, vulnerable, and nervous. They may experience a decrease in trust for their own body. They may have intense anxiety about harming their new joint. As their healthcare provider, you have a crucial role in helping patients feel more confident and at ease. Instead of feeling anxious and uncertain, with your help, patients can experience a significantly improved quality of life.  

Pre-op Education

One of the most significant factors in a patient’s heightened anxiety is how long they have to wait to have their surgery. Optimizing your scheduling and referral processes has a direct impact on your patients’ overall experiences. In fact, many patients specifically cited the referral process as the part of their total joint journey that took the most time and was the most frustrating. The longer patients have to wait, the more anxious they get. 

You can also optimize the pre-admissions process by allowing your patients to fill out all paperwork online prior to their surgery. This option not only improves efficiency at the pre-admission stage but also lays the groundwork to send targeted instructions to your patients after surgery. 

The Day of Surgery 

Nothing is more frustrating—for the patient and you—than having a candidate show up ill-prepared for surgery. Rescheduling only causes more anxiety and frustration for your patients. And it adds up to lost revenue for your surgery center. To decrease the risk of rescheduling, you need to go overboard in communicating with patients about how to prepare for surgery. Relevant instructions might include how to eat (or not eat) the night before, what medications to avoid or take, and what to bring to the surgical appointment, including their I.D., insurance information, comfortable clothing to wear home, an updated medication list, and flat, supportive walking shoes. 

Patients should be prepared to return home the same day. This means an identified support person should be waiting to take the patient home, and this support person should also understand recovery instructions and precautions. Communicate clearly with patients that they will spend some time in a designated recovery area after surgery before they are cleared to return home safely. When patients have a general idea of what to expect, they experience significantly reduced levels of nervousness or fear. 

Post-op Follow-up 

Many ASCs let their patient satisfaction slide in the post-op phase. Many patients still feel uncertain or afraid after surgery, and if they don’t hear from their provider, these feelings can exacerbate. Continue to follow the best practices after discharge, such as conducting follow-up phone calls, pointing patients toward physical therapy, and sending them home with educational information. 

You can optimize this phase even further by sending strategic, specific follow-up messaging via email, text, or video format. In particular, videos with post-op instructions can be supremely helpful for patients in the days and weeks after their operation. Not only does this strategy increase patient experience, but it can also maximize efficiency on your end by reducing the number of phone calls through a streamlined digital communication platform. 

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