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How Tech Places Patients at the Center of Complex Care Path Management

Andre Ahuja
By Andre Ahuja on January 09, 2024
doctor showing tablet to pregnant patient
doctor showing tablet to pregnant patient

How Tech Places Patients at the Center of Complex Care Path Management

Andre Ahuja
By Andre Ahuja on January 09, 2024

In hospitals, physician’s offices, and other healthcare facilities across the country, staff, nurses, and providers are committed to improving the well-being of their patients.   

But when the processes that facilitate their work get gummed up by inefficiencies, delays, or outdated systems, their ability to provide excellent care can only go so far. Backlogs and deviances from established plans, caused by factors like scheduling errors that need fixing or inconsistent clinical approaches, disrupt the patient experience and the quality and timeliness of treatment. And in the case of complex care paths, organizations risk losing patients due to insufficient management of their progress or poor explanations of their condition, care plan, and what comes next in their journey. 

Solving these challenges isn’t just about putting the right workflow pieces in place. It’s about empowering patients to become central participants in those workflows — and adopting the technologies that can help make that happen. 

Navigating the Complex Care Journey 

What makes a care path complex in an already intricate healthcare environment? 

These multifaceted clinical journeys require patients to have multiple visits with several providers who specialize in different areas. Consider, for example, a patient seeking an elective bariatric surgery. That patient would need to meet with specialists in cardiology, pulmonology, nutrition, and more, and their treatment would be equally as complicated, requiring labs, imaging, and possibly mental health support. 

This is a complex care path — and it functions a lot like a project plan, with key steps, milestones, and timelines. To enable this patient to get their desired surgery, providers need tools to manage and facilitate the patient through each step of the plan. 

The same is true for other complex service lines and patient needs, like pregnancy, neurological care, gender affirmation surgery, organ transplants, and management of chronic illness, among many others. 

The Importance of a High-Functioning Healthcare Workflow 

In complex care paths, efficient healthcare workflows don’t just save time and money. In many cases, they save lives. 

When workflows work properly — with the right technologies in place to support them — patients are able to better understand the various stages of their care journey and get the right specialized care at the right time. 

But the benefits of efficient workflows don't stop there. A recent survey from Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center found that clunky electronic health record (EHR) systems hindered staff morale, with 92.5% of providers saying their systems made processes less efficient and 76.7% reporting that they made it even harder to prioritize patient safety. With a staggering two-thirds of physicians experiencing burnout largely due to these burdensome systems, smoothing out complicated workflows by integrating the right technologies and empowering patients within that flow can be key to an overall better healthcare environment. 

Empowering Patients Throughout Their Care Journey 

As much as we might want them to be, complex care paths aren’t linear. A lab result could add two extra steps to the path. A previous health condition could require a patient to see yet another specialist. An X-ray result might mean going back to a previous provider for more tests. 

To move through the care path effectively, patients need to truly understand every step — even the circuitous ones — and why they’re important to their overall health goal. After all, if they don’t know what the steps of their care path involve, they can’t follow them. 

Within the complex care path, patient education and empowerment can benefit everyone involved. Patients with strong health literacy have been shown to fill out advance directives and complete care plans at higher rates, and, in many cases, have better health outcomes than their peers with lower literacy. 

On the provider side, organizations need to demonstrate a certain level of patient education in order to achieve and maintain accreditation. 

Key Factors of Successful Care Management 

Making complex care paths more accessible for more patients involves carefully assessing what’s working and what’s not. Where are patients getting confused or frustrated? Where are they getting lost in the system? In what ways do they prefer to receive information about their plan? 

To optimize workflows and improve patient empowerment, the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) recommends first identifying the boundaries of a process, including its triggers, steps, and intended results. Then, teams should analyze how the process currently functions and develop use cases for designing a better workflow. 

This process can lead to a more streamlined and successful complex care path, in which patients understand and take ownership over their steps. This kind of path comprises several key factors, including: 

  • Access:

    Because many healthcare facilities are juggling backlogs of patients and limited time, they often lack time slots for all the patients who need their care. Using technologies to shift administrative tasks can help open up more space and time for new patients — while streamlining processes for existing ones. 

  • Tracking:

    Both providers and patients need transparent access to their care path steps, as well as tools to effectively track their progress. With these tools, patients are more equipped to follow their plan, no matter how complex it is. 

  • Connection:

    In a successful care path, providers across specialties are able to share patient data smoothly and securely. This connected care enables providers to better monitor patients’ journeys. 

  • Up-to-date technologies:

    Outdated electronic medical record (EMR) systems often require significant manual labor from staff and providers, and while some can follow patients’ progress, many often lack the educational components that keep patients on track to begin with. That’s why providers need more comprehensive and up-to-date solutions that empower, educate, and help patients along their journeys. 

Simplifying Complex Care Processes With Elxo 

In a healthcare setting, the right technology can mean the difference between an overly complicated, months-long process rife with challenges and a swift, efficient workflow that gets patients the care they need at the right time. 

At Elxo, we create the tools modern healthcare organizations need — from comprehensive, custom patient portals to self-service mobile apps. Our core goals? Enabling providers to provide streamlined, patient-centric care and empowering patients to take control of their complex care journeys. 

We specifically design our flexible solutions to deliver key benefits to providers and patients like: 

  • Patient education:

    With just a click of a button, patients can access clinician-reviewed educational resources — PDFs, videos, quizzes, and more — through their app. And providers can easily add new content or modules as the care journey unfolds. 

  • Connected data:

    Providers across the care continuum can add and consolidate patient data within the app or portal, enabling everyone to stay on the same page about the patient’s progress. 

  • Progress monitoring:

    Providers can use data to benchmark milestones, improve their treatment plans, and help patients follow their plan’s steps. 

  • Training:

    To ensure everyone across the complex care path is in lock step, Elxo facilitates extensive training on how to effectively use the technology. 

  • Two-way communication:

    Through their app, patients can ask informed questions and providers can respond with quick answers, attached resources, and guidance on next steps. 

  • Iteration:

    The low-code foundation of our solutions enables teams to efficiently transform a technology built for one service line into a custom solution for another line. 

A bonus benefit? Time savings. Get started with Elxo to see how the right technology can do the administrative heavy lifting for you, freeing you up to spend more time doing what you do best: caring for patients. 

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