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Patient care institute to include MUSC voice

by Mary Helen Yarborough
Public Relations
The next trend in improving health care and outcomes could depend on how well medical providers engage their patients to better understand their conditions and what is required of them.
The new patient engagement initiative announced in May by the GetWellNetwork will include input by MUSC’s  executive medical director, Patrick Cawley, M.D., and other top health care industry leaders across the country who will develop models of best practices and new tools through the  Institute for Interactive Patient Care (IIPC).
Through IIPC, researchers work to establish the efficacy of patient engagement on advancing hospital quality, safety, service and financial outcomes, as well as patient outcomes; and to utilize these findings to establish and promote patient engagement policy, standards and requirements for health care providers.
The goal is to impress upon patients the importance of their roles in improving their health. On a national level, the concept is to enhance the overall quality, service and cost performance outcomes in American health care.
“This is built on the premise that ‘I’m not just going to take care of you, but you are going to take care of yourself,’” said Cawley. “Patient engagement is more than education, as it teaches the patient to participate and be responsible for their care.”
For example, Cawley said for a patient may be deemed a fall risk due to medication, “we would explain to the patient that he is a fall risk because, for example, he may be taking pain medication, which could make a person light-headed. “If the patient recognizes the issues before they get worse, he will experience fewer injuries and get better  quickly. He also would avoid un-necessary repeat visits to the hospital.”
Effective patient engagement works best with a team approach, rather than relying on a single nurse or physician. Nurses, physician’s assistants, dietitians, physical therapists, and other clinical staff could play a significant role in helping a patient become his own best advocate and caregiver.
“We’ve always done a better job of this in pediatric care than we have on the adult side,” Cawley said. “That’s because we have always engaged the parents in explaining about their child’s health and condition, and parents listen when we tell them what they are responsible for in caring for the health of the child. For some reason, we’ve failed in engaging adult patients as effectively.”
Research by member institutions including MUHA will use GetWellNetwork’s PatientLife System as the primary patient engagement tool to measure the impact of patient engagement. This emerging inpatient care delivery model, known as Interactive Patient Care, uses bedside technology and is proactive in engaging patients and their families in their care process.
Findings and developments by IIPC could become important to improving the economic health of the health care industry. “Patient engagement is the next  wave of the future of patient care. The very best hospitals will be able to show that they effectively engage the patient,” Cawley added.
The IIPC board, which met in the spring, will meet again in November to identify models to use for patient engagement surveys. These models would focus on diseases and/or conditions that result in the most return visits to the hospital, such as congestive heart failure or diabetes.
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Friday, June 19, 2009

The Catalyst Online is published weekly by the MUSC Office of Public Relations for the faculty, employees and students of the Medical University of South Carolina. The Catalyst Online editor, Kim Draughn, can be reached at 792-4107 or by email, Editorial copy can be submitted to The Catalyst Online and to The Catalyst in print by fax, 792-6723, or by email to To place an ad in The Catalyst hardcopy, call Island Publications at 849-1778, ext. 201.