A patient engagement platform is helping Fresno Heart and Surgical Center in California keep better track of potential patients, tracking their progress and whether they successfully lose weight through its bariatric surgery program.

Aaron Lloyd, director of the Bariatric and Minimally Invasive Surgery Program at Fresno Heart and Surgical Center in California, says his organization had struggled to follow up on potential patients and track them through its program.

“We used to have 3,000 to 3,500 potential patients on the path to receiving bariatric surgery in a given year. But in that same year, we would only operate on a third of these individuals,” he says. “Somewhere along the way, we lost 2,000 to 2,500 potential patients. We knew that if we could track where they were lost, we could intervene.”

Obviously, the practice was missing out on a lot of potential revenue, but patients also were missing out on what could be life-changing surgery.

Fresno Heart’s bariatric program offers in-person and online seminars for prospective patients to learn more about the procedure, but there was no follow-up work done to make sure these individuals became patients. And because 60 percent of patients attending a seminar do not take the next step toward scheduling a consultation, it was missing out on potential interventions.

Also See: Why engaging patients will take some patience

So, the program contracted for a patient engagement platform from Sequence Health. The platform supports tracking those coming to seminars, following up with automated emails encouraging a consultation and by targeting re-engagement with patients going through the process for surgery to see where they are in the journey and if they have any needs not being addressed.

Preparatory steps for patients include completing a nutrition class, getting tests and evaluations from a primary care physician, which include a psychiatric evaluation, lab work, a sleep study and maybe cardiac and diabetes clearance.

What makes Sequence Health different from other vendors is not only offering lead tracking of prospective clients, but additional services such as administering the website, hosting online seminars and conducting search engine optimization.

The biggest hurdle within the initiative was getting the right data, according to Lloyd. “Don’t be afraid to invest in data,” he counsels. “Our system was only as good as the people using it. You need to take time to put in the data to affect meaningful change.”

Fresno Health’s bariatric program still is missing one component, Lloyd says. The organization would like a patient portal so patients can more easily communicate with providers and have access to their own data, and the vendor has been asked to build the portal.

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