I’m not gonna lie: I’m a sucker for nostalgia. I love the pop and crackle of a vinyl record and the clack and ring of an old typewriter. For many people, these iconic pieces of past technology incite a wistful sort of comfort—and maybe that’s why these technological dinosaurs have avoided total extinction long after modern tech has rendered them obsolete. However, when it comes to health and wellness, using out-of-date technology is less of a nod to nostalgia and more of a disservice to your patients. A 2016 study found that 54% of low back pain patients adhered to their home exercise program when the information was printed or handwritten, and the percentage of patients correctly performing their exercises was even lower than that. These underwhelming numbers are like a punch to the gut for many providers, and they also have some pretty serious implications about financial waste in health care—an industry that can’t afford any needless spending.
Give the people what they want.
So, what’s a practice to do? Research from The Beryl Institute showed that providing interactive technology (like digitized home exercise programs) in hospital settings sparked a 10% increase in patient satisfaction and a more than 40% improvement in satisfaction with educational materials. And as other studies indicate, patient satisfaction has a direct impact on patient outcomes as well as patient retention. In other words, patients respond positively when therapists incorporate technology throughout the course of care. With that in mind, the solution is clear: a peer-reviewed, interactive, and mobile HEP platform is key to increasing patient compliance with prescribed home exercise programs.
But simply having a digital HEP won’t keep your patients from vanishing into thin air. You’ve got to use it in a way that makes patients more invested in—and engaged with—their treatment. This means using formats that make it easy for patients to stick to their HEPs, such as mobile-friendly exercise charts and easy-to-follow videos that patients can access anytime, anywhere. Plus, when patients can’t lose their printed exercise sheets, they’ve got one less excuse for failing to complete their prescribed exercises.
Deliver better outcomes.
Some of your more tech-savvy patients might be apt to Googling exercises if they need further instruction, which can end up being more harmful than helpful. The problem is, the exercise instructions patients find online may not come from industry professionals, which means they may not be accurate. As their provider, you should be the only person your patients trust when it comes to HEP creation and instruction. If you’re using a trusted, professional HEP tool, you can tailor your programs to meet the needs of each individual patient. Plus, you can be confident that you’re prescribing movements that are peer-reviewed and industry-backed, which means patients are performing exercises that have been proven effective. That translates to better patient outcomes—a serious win for both you and your patients. After all, better outcomes lead to higher patient satisfaction and retention rates.
Skip the wait.
Technology is changing the way providers deliver care to their patients, but these changes aren’t just improving outcomes—they’re also increasing patient satisfaction by cutting out unnecessary steps. If you use a digital HEP, your patients have comprehensive instructions available at their fingertips, which removes the need for them to call the clinic or stop by for additional clarification.
Consider leveraging telehealth.
That said, there may still be a time when a patient simply prefers to speak directly to his or her provider. And just like Fred Astaire and Ginger Roberts, the dynamic duo of a digital HEP and telehealth services is a crowd-pleasing pair.
While some payers—including Medicare—have been slow to get onboard with telehealth, that may be about to change. And when it does, rehab therapists need to know how to take advantage of this golden opportunity. A computer-based HEP allows you to save exercise profiles and assign them to a patient’s chart. That way, when a patient calls, it’s easy to pull up his or her HEP and go through each movement. If you need to update, add, or remove an exercise during the phone call or video chat, a digitized HEP makes doing so a breeze. Plus, you can electronically send the updated HEP to the patient right then and there—no scanning or paper-shuffling required.
Even if you share my penchant for antiques and analog, I’m sure you’ll agree that outdated technology doesn’t have much of a place in health care—and many of your patients likely share that sentiment. After all, studies have shown that technology and patient satisfaction tend to go hand-in-hand. And when it comes to keeping your patients healthy—and your practice financially secure—your patients’ satisfaction should be at the heart of any decision to use a particular tool.