Cardinal Health recently commissioned an independent study of healthcare professionals to gain a better understanding of their pain points, challenges and trends associated with patient care and compliance upon discharge.1,2
The study, which included nurse directors, patient education staff, nurse educators, home healthcare nurses, WOCNs, case managers and discharge planners, found that healthcare is moving toward greater patient self-management and home care, as evidenced by earlier hospital patient discharges and increased patient financial burden.
While healthcare professionals derive their greatest satisfaction from feeling as though they’ve made a real difference in a patient’s life, their greatest frustration is knowing there is only so much that they can do for the patient – they can’t make them adhere or comply with treatment plans once they go home.
Setting up a clear path to continuity of care
Given the shift to patient self-management and home care, healthcare professionals are proactively responding with strategies of their own aimed at orienting patients to their new reality and setting up a clearer path to continuity of care. Among the strategies is a stronger emphasis on educating patients and caregivers on the importance of patient compliance with post-charge treatment and care plans. This training and education often begins upon admission and is then reinforced with both the patient and caregiver up through discharge.
Hospital to home care products
Healthcare professionals do not generally differentiate between in-hospital and at-home products. They acknowledge that there is value in being able to teach and train patients about their care using the same product that patients will use during at-home care. This allows them to use a patient/caregiver “teach-back” method that helps to ensure proper use of the products in the home environment. Evidence shows that product use forms the basis of patient familiarity and comfort, a key to driving compliance.1 And high incidence of use in-hospital creates the framework for continuity of care at-home.
Other factors influencing at-home product use and training are insurance coverage, ease-of-use and patient comfort.
Top-of-mind products that healthcare professionals believe could span from the hospital to the home are those for the most critical need states (i.e. recovery/management/maintenance products). This includes products such as glucometers for diabetes, durable medical equipment for trauma/sports injury, adult briefs for incontinence and dressings for wound care.
Patient compliance during at-home care
While education, training and product recommendations play a role in helping to ensure continuity of care, healthcare professionals say the support a patient receives at home is a major factor in compliance as well. Because of the patient’s emotional and cognitive state at discharge, healthcare professionals recognize that the patient does not always fully absorb the training and education they receive in the hospital, despite the reinforcement from admission to discharge. This, coupled with the rigors of the patient dealing with his or her own daily health situation, can lead to noncompliance and disrupt the model.
As healthcare continues moving toward greater patient self-management and home care, healthcare professionals are taking innovative measures to help their patients receive the care they need upon discharge and placing more pressure on caregivers to provide the same care at home.
As both healthcare professionals and caregivers strive to navigate this evolving hospital to home care transition, the availability and importance of high-quality products cannot be overstated and the improvement opportunities are incremental. Research shows there are benefits to having products that span the continuum of care as part of the larger strategy to help drive and ensure patient compliance.