Hospital turns to digital video to bolster discharge efforts

For many hospitals and health systems, technology increasingly is becoming a linchpin in efforts to improve care coordination efforts with patients following discharge.

Case in point: In the neurosurgery unit at New York-based Lenox Hill Hospital, doctors are piloting a new program in which digital videos are created to provide guidance for exiting patients, according to a recent Wall Street Journal article.

For the trial, the hospital will enroll roughly 200 patients, half of them will receive printed instructions, as well as a video that includes their relevant medical images and verbal guidance; the other half will receive only printed directions.

At present, roughly 90 percent of the patients who have received the videos have watched them, David Langer, chief of neurosurgery at Lenox Hill, told WSJ; about 110 patients are participating in the trial, currently, but North Shore LIJ, the hospital's parent system, wants to deploy the idea to some of its other facilities next year.

Boston Children's Hospital, meanwhile, has turned to text messaging and email as a way to bolster its discharge process. As Kelly Dunn, R.N., explained last month at the HIMSS Connected Health Conference, the hospital's tool, dubbed DisCo, for Discharge Communications, sends families either a text message or an email within 24 hours of discharge that contains a link to a Web-based survey. The form includes follow-up questions such as, "Does your child have their prescribed medications?" and "Has a follow-up appointment with the pediatrician been scheduled?"

Once parents or guardians respond to the questions, nurse practitioners then access those responses via a provider dashboard, and reach out to help, as necessary.

The Boston Children's tool currently is in a second pilot phase; 554 patients were enrolled in the program and 286 have used the tool, according to Dunn.

According to a case study published in January by the American Hospital Association, organizations must also ensure that tools for discharge planning must not overwhelm available resources and that they allow clinicians to prioritize health during a hospital stay.

In addition, hospitals can reduce readmissions and speed up recovery by promptly delivering a detailed discharge summary to patients' doctors, according to studies from Yale School of Medicine also published in January.

To learn more:
- read the Wall Street Journal article

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