Optimal engagement, satisfaction & outcomes — How PeerWell helps Dr. Nicholas Frisch enhance the outpatient joint experience

Megan Wood -   Print  |

In a value-based environment, patient satisfaction is more important than ever. And many healthcare organizations are turning to technology to help boost patient engagement for positive outcomes.

PeerWell is one technology aiming to ease the bumps along the patient surgical journey. An electronic system accessed via a smartphone, tablet or computer, PeerWell offers the PreHab and ReHab apps to help patients feel in control of their surgery process, from preop to postop.

In November 2017, the company unveiled an addition to its platform designed for outpatient joint replacement centers. Nicholas Frisch, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at Rochester, Mich.-based Ascension Crittenton Hospital, shares how PeerWell has encouraged engagement among his outpatient joint patients.

Question: How can physicians increase their patient satisfaction ratings at outpatient facilities?

Dr. Nicholas Frisch: Part of the appeal to outpatient surgery is the experience, which starts with patient preparation. The more prepared patients are, the more engaged they'll be early on in the process. Early preparation and engagement increases the likelihood that patient outcomes match patient expectations.

Those patients who meet medical criteria for outpatient surgery don't all belong in an ambulatory environment. For example, there are those who have social limitations and others who may require more mental and physical preparation despite medical clearance. This is where technology, such as PeerWell, can really improve satisfaction. It provides a well-rounded approach to delivering a breadth of meaningful content from mindfulness and pre-operative exercises, to nutrition and home preparation. By delivering that content at specific intervals I've found patients are more receptive, as opposed to handing them a booklet and telling them to read it, or providing web videos they need to log in to watch. This delivery system makes it effortless and seamlessly integrates with the process. I routinely see all my patients back one to two weeks before surgery and those who have gone through the PeerWell PreHab program have pointed questions, seem to have a better grasp of what's involved and generally require less additional counsel. That level of engagement is, in my opinion, critical to achieving optimal outcomes.

Q: How do PeerWell's PreHab and ReHab tools support physicians treating patients in the outpatient setting?

NF: They provide a breadth of content that is otherwise nearly impossible to cover in a routine clinic visit. That content is delivered strategically in set intervals in a meaningful way to maximize engagement and retention. On the backend, the software also allows physicians to see how the patients are doing with the program, identify who has actively enrolled and assists us in identifying patients who may need additional preparation.

Q: Can you provide a clinical perspective of PeerWell's platforms? How have the tools enhanced your practice?

NF: In my practice, I strongly advocate for patient education and engagement. We provide a variety of materials to assist us in this process. All patients receive a booklet specific to our practice that guides them through the surgical process. They have access to videos and additional resources on our website. There is a preoperative class that they have access to. With PeerWell, they now have access to even more robust material. There are modules on pain management, mindfulness, mental preparation, nutrition, exercise and home preparation, to list a few. There is only so much information we can reasonably provide in a clinic visit and each patient has unique needs that we need to be aware of. PeerWell allows us to capture content and provide that information to patients in ways that we just don't have the resources to do in our practice.

A quick example that has stuck with me is a patient of mine who was preparing for a total knee replacement. I knew this patient personally and he was healthy, younger and extremely motivated. He did everything we asked and when I saw him at his first postoperative visit I asked him about his experience with PeerWell. He actually loved the nutrition modules. To be honest, he was so fit I would have never thought to have a separate discussion about nutrition, but as he was preparing for surgery and in the time after surgery, he had taken notes on those modules and actually made changes to his diet. I like this story because it shows that even as physicians we don't know what we don't know about our patients. I think technology such as PeerWell helps us reach them in ways we may not even be aware we need to.

Q: Would you recommend PeerWell's tools to other orthopedic surgeons?

NF: I recommend PeerWell to every one of my colleagues doing joint replacement. Many of them are using different forms of patient engagement platforms and digital health solutions. I think PeerWell has two distinct advantages that I always point out.
The first is that it seamlessly integrates with clinical workflow and requires no additional work on the side of the physician. This is very appealing to those of us in busy clinical practices with constrained resources. Second, it is easy for the patient and adds value to their experience.

Every patient I have asked about PeerWell has something different to say, which typifies the value. Some tell me they loved the nutrition component. Others felt as though the exercises were critical to their success. While there have even been a few who told me they felt some of the modules didn't appeal to them, but really embraced the mindfulness component. I've yet to have someone tell me they got nothing out of it and I think the reason is that it is designed to be a comprehensive solution. Not everyone will benefit from every module, but together, everyone takes away something of value. Adding value to the patient, engaging the patient and doing so in a way that doesn't bog down the surgeon is a win for everyone.

More articles on practice management:
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10 best & worst states for annual physician wages
Letter to CMS: 5 insights on what orthopedic surgeons think about removing TKA from the Medicare Inpatient Only list

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