Six months after implementation of a patient engagement platform for total joint replacement surgeries, HealthEast Care System, a four-hospital delivery system in St. Paul, Minn., is seeing improved outcomes and lower costs of care.

Among other benefits, the number of same-day patient cancellations has been cut in half, says Todd Smith, MD, a family physician and CMIO at HealthEast.

The organization initially launched the program in a limited rollout in July 2017 but quickly found out it did not have an appropriate infrastructure in place, Smith recalls. Among other shortfalls, caregivers had to manually enroll patients, which was a slow and cumbersome process. The program, however, started gaining momentum in November 2017 when an automated way to enroll patients went live, as well as other IT-driven process tweaks.

The patient engagement platform is from UbiCare. HealthEast previously had worked with the vendor on the obstetrics side of the house and was pleased with the company’s services, Smith says. “I didn’t see the need to go looking around at other vendors when we had an existing relationship already.”

The platform supports several activities, such as auto-enrolling patients and messaging information about the procedures.

Patients can submit additional questions, which builds their confidence and reinforces their commitment to go through with the operation, and they also get follow-up care reminders during the postoperative period, all of which contribute to better outcomes, Smith says. Patients also attend the Joint Camp, which is a class conducted before the procedure.

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Patients receive educational messages from their clinicians by email or text on either their computer or mobile devices.

Physicians initially were worried they would get a barrage of messages. But that never came to pass, in part because of the information patients received before the surgery, Smith says. He gets about three or four messages a month, he adds.

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