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Orthopedic Care Navigators Expand Capacity Through Digital Care Efficiencies

In the ever-evolving landscape of healthcare, patient-centric care delivery models have become critical to improving patient outcomes and experiences. One such model, the navigator care model, is a patient-centric care delivery approach that emphasizes personalized patient empowerment and education and focuses on the continuity of care coordination longitudinally across an entire episode of care.

As part of this model, navigators are responsible for facilitating seamless interactions and clear communication with patients across different providers and facilities, as well as maintaining a high level of coordination among the different providers that interact with the patient across their care journey.

With rising regulatory requirements, heightened cost pressures, and expanding patient volumes, maintaining high-quality coordinated care for each patient becomes increasingly challenging for navigators, and the benefits incurred through this care model become more difficult to accomplish. This is particularly true for organizations and practices that may have not yet implemented digital care infrastructure, given the high burden and time cost associated with manual tasks such as patient education, data collection, and answering phone calls or responding to voicemails.

Digital Care Tools Expand Navigator Capacity

Via direct messaging, patient/provider alerting, virtual check-ins, personalized intelligent care plans, virtual education, online resource libraries, and direct integration into EHRs, care teams can gain substantial efficiencies that would not be effectively possible through in-person care and manual data collection exclusively.

Particularly, automation of routine touch points throughout the episode of care, coupled with evidence-based digital care pathways and direct communication tools, extends the reach of navigators into patient homes and empowers efficient and personalized management of a larger patient volume. Moreover, high-quality tailored education delivered digitally at the patient’s convenience and bolstered through gamification, along with unmatched patient opt-in and PROs compliance, ensures patient preparedness and satisfaction at scale while optimizing data collection.

In addition, direct communication tools and smart delivery of digital education and care instructions mitigates patient questions before they arise, reducing call volumes and voicemails and allowing providers to focus care where it is most needed.

The Hartford HealthCare Experience

At Hartford HealthCare, the navigator care model had been in use prior to the implementation of Force Therapeutics. Other patient engagement solutions were attempted, but were deemed insufficient to effectively scale the capacities of navigators across various sites to enable management of larger patient volumes.

Since the implementation of Force Therapeutics at Hartford HealthCare in 2020, the annual case volume managed on the platform has increased by close to 600% with only 2-5 navigators at each site to date. Between 2021 and 2023, provider volumes on the platform at Hartford HealthCare grew at a compound annual rate of  approximately 12%, while patient volumes expanded by nearly 78% over the same period, showcasing how strong digital care management can empower providers to effectively care for larger and expanding patient populations.

Digital Care Improves Efficiency, Study Shows

Even as patient volumes expanded, Hartford HealthCare teams have been able to achieve immensely impressive results when it comes to patient engagement, education, experience, and outcomes, maintaining high care standards despite expanding patient volumes and the financial restrictions being experienced across the US healthcare ecosystem.

This was highlighted in a recent study analyzing Hartford healthCare’s digital care experience across more than 14,000 patients, with 85% of patients opting in to use the platform,  77% enabling SMS reminders to complete tasks and review education materials, and 87% registering pain entries.

In addition, average patient compliance with patient-reported outcomes (PROs) was 80% across all intervals, and average PROs compliance at 1Y was 75% across hip, knee, lumbar spine, cervical spine, and shoulder patients. 96% of patients reported being “very prepared” or “prepared” for their procedure, while 98% reported a “very good” or “good” experience at the facility. Average patient satisfaction with the procedure and the platform was 4.6/5 and 4.3/5, respectively.

Also observed in the study were distinct and clinically significant improvements in pain, function, mental health, and activities of daily living, as well as marked declines in disability scores. For example, nearly 80% of hip patients met the HOOS Jr. minimal clinically important difference (MCID) at 1Y post-operatively, and patient-reported pain declined by 55% at 12W on average.

Interested in learning more and exploring the data? Download the full study below.

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