Dr. Mike Hsieh is a urologist and surgeon at the Men’s Health Center at the University of California San Diego.
Recently he described for me the frustration surgeons and health system administrators experience when patients cancel planned surgical procedures. “All physicians understand the frustration of lost productivity caused by these breaks in the OR schedule” he said, “and we know they become part of the overhead that increases health care costs.”
Dr. Hsieh is principal investigator for a study presented last week at the American Urology Association meeting in Chicago which showed that patients who received a series of Vidscrips (video prescriptions) from their doctor via text message in the days leading up to surgery were significantly less likely to cancel their procedure (37.5% vs 11%).
Case cancellations are economically and operationally disruptive to providers, hospitals, and even medical device companies, as reps often schedule weeks in advance to be present to support cases. Data from a study at Tulane University showing that same-day cancellations in urology cost the hospital $4,758 each, and in 2009 alone cancellations resulted in nearly $1 million in losses.
But it’s not just providers and hospitals who are impacted by cancellations. According to Dr. Hsieh, cancellations are often associated with “a poor overall patient experience”, and can impact patient satisfaction measures that are critical to overall reimbursement
Creating durable change in healthcare is hard work, especially when patient behavior is critical to the outcome, which is why we need to listen to what patients are telling us. Since 2014 nearly 1.2 million patients have watched Vidscrips from their own urologist. Surveys of these patients show that 80% say they prefer getting videos from their own doctor to all other forms of patient education. The results of Dr. Hsieh’s study appears to validate that patients’ preference for a more modern, personalized and proactive approach to peri-operative engagement will result in meaningful behavior change.
So what’s the upshot?
Patients have been telling us for years that they want a better surgical experience. As it turns out, if we provide it to them in part through versatile and easy-to-implement tools like Vidscrip they’ll change behaviors that can impact the clinical, operational and financial outcomes health systems are looking for.