Ochsner Health System Is One of Four Top Health Systems To Share Novel Approaches to Improve Patient Engagement

NEW ORLEANS – Hospitals and health systems across the United States are seeking ways to better engage patients with a variety of handheld and home-based technologies to improve patient experience and health outcomes. How do you use technology to transform the hospital bedside? Increase medication adherence for hypertension? Control diabetes? Reduce distress in patients with cancer?

Four hospital organizations, including Ochsner Health System, UC San Diego Health (UCSD), Sutter Health and Stanford Health Care have all developed answers to these questions. All have created diverse models of care that incorporate use of patient-centered technologies with measurable outcomes. Their efforts and results were published in the March 2019 edition of Health Affairs.

More than one in three American adults has high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. If not controlled, it can cause damage to the eyes, brain, heart, blood vessels, and kidneys. As a result, high blood pressure is one of the leading causes of heart attack, stroke, kidney failure and death.

Due to these alarming statistics, Ochsner used their online patient portal, MyOchsner, to create a hypertension digital medicine program to treat uncontrollable hypertension. This continuous care model combined patient-reported blood pressure data, clinical data and coaching from a specialized care team who provides proactive and preventative interventions in real-time. Outcomes showed that medication adherence among patients improved 14 percent while 79 percent achieved greater blood pressure control. Overall, clinicians saw a 29 percent reduction in clinic visits.

“Chronic disease has become the great epidemic of our time. The use of technology to engage patients in their own well-being is now a significant part of the healthcare experience, said Dr. Richard Milani, Ochsner’s Chief Clinical Transformation Officer and Medical Director of innovationOchsner. “This paper features successful case studies on how health systems can be transformative by using technology, data and new thinking to improve the delivery of care.” 

Other select project examples include:

  • UC San Diego Health put patients in direct control of their experience by placing an Apple tablet in every inpatient room in Jacobs Medical Center. The tablets enable patients to control room temperature, lighting and entertainment options while also enabling access to personal medical information such as test results and schedules of medications. UCSD observed that patients who used the tablet for room control were 1.65 times more likely to use the hospital’s patient portal and additional resources to improve their health.
  • Sutter Health used their patient portal to help patients self-manage their diabetes. Online reminders of hemoglobin A1c monitoring among patients with diabetes improved the rate of A1c test completion by 33.9 percent. Overall, patients with previously uncontrolled diabetes had a significant reduction in HbA1c at six months compared to usual care.
  • Stanford Health Care used their patient portal to help patients with cancer manage stress. Patients were surveyed before clinic visits to identify unaddressed symptoms. About 40 percent of patients who responded reported experiencing distress. These responses led to more than 6,000 referrals for psychotherapy, nutrition and other services.

Additional co-authors include N. Lance Downing and Christopher Demuth Sharp from Stanford Health Care; Veena Goel Jones and Albert Chan from Sutter Health; Richard Milani from Ochsner Health System; and Bequin Zhao and Brian Clay from UC San Diego.

This research was funded, in part, by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (HIS-1608-35689-IC).

In 2015, Ochsner created innovationOchsner (iO), an innovation lab which concentrates on solving some of the most pressing healthcare challenges. In the last few years, iO has designed interventions and digital medicine programs that focus on improving the outcomes of their patients.

Full study can be found: http://www.healthaffairs.org/doi/full/10.1377/hlthaff.2018.05027

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Ochsner Health System is Louisiana’s largest non-profit, academic, healthcare system. Driven by a mission to Serve, Heal, Lead, Educate and Innovate, coordinated clinical and hospital patient care is provided across the region by Ochsner's 40 owned, managed and affiliated hospitals and specialty hospitals, and more than 100 health centers and urgent care centers. Ochsner is the only Louisiana hospital recognized by U.S. News & World Report as a “Best Hospital” across three specialty categories caring for patients from all 50 states and more than 70 countries worldwide each year. Ochsner employs nearly 25,000 employees and over 4,500 employed and affiliated physicians in over 90 medical specialties and subspecialties and conducts more than 700 clinical research studies. Ochsner Health System is proud to be a tobacco-free environment. For more information, please visit ochsner.org and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

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