ED staff are increasingly being expected to provide continuity of care to patients, even when patients have left the hospital. If a patient has a complication or uncertainty in his care, the prudent emergency physician would want to know and intervene. Risk management requires that we come up with systems by which we can more clearly communicate care plans to patients, create detailed follow-up milestones, be made aware of patient complications, and communicate amended plans to patients.
The brute-force approach is patient call-backs, contacting each patient a day or two after his visit. This is clinically effective and a boost to patient satisfaction, but many ED groups find it challenging to achieve high engagement and consistency with call-back programs.
Alternatives to call-back programs now exist that lever the use of technology to create automated and disease-specific follow-up programs. The service Doctella (www.doctella.com) allows practices to create disease-specific care plans that walk patients through specific milestones, assess progress, and feed the data back to the providers. New patients are easily loaded into the care plans using their simple dashboard.
Imagine, for example, that you want every patient who receives a splint to report back on his pain level six, 12, and 24 hours after his ED visit to monitor for compartment syndrome. Or you may want to follow up with all I&D and laceration patients to monitor for wound infections, and make sure patients have arranged appropriate follow-up.
Using Doctella provides an audit trail that shows that you made a real effort to arrange for appropriate care monitoring for the patient. You can audit the patient's responses if a complication or malpractice case arises afterwards. Audit trails are a key feature missing from many call-back programs, and Doctella offers a great solution.
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