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3 strategic benefits of surgery prep programs

May 3, 2017

    Surgery programs have long been a strategic priority for hospital executives given the amount of revenue they generate. However, until recently, surgical program optimization began and ended at the actual procedure itself, with little thought to the pre- or post-procedure pathway. 

    While pre- and post-surgery programs were originally introduced for a select few specialized services to improve quality outcomes for complex patients, recent evidence suggests that these processes may benefit complex surgical patients across a variety of surgical service lines (e.g., transplant, orthopedic surgery, colorectal surgery, and urology). A few early adopters of this model have seen volume growth, improved patient satisfaction, and improved quality outcomes.

    Read on to learn how your surgery program can benefit from a preparation program:

    1. Volume growth

    Pre-surgery preparation programs can help retain surgical patients over the course of their care. By keeping patients engaged through support systems and education, programs can increase the likelihood that they’ll convert patients to surgery.

    The Duke Health Perioperative Enhancement Team, or POET, targets complex, high-risk patients who are referred to the program with specialized preparation treatments prior to any major elective surgery—including iron infusions for anemic patients or dietary coaching for diabetic and obese patients. While other programs struggle to convert referrals to surgery, about 80% of patients that participated in the POET program remained engaged throughout their education, procedure, and follow-up care.

    2. Improved patient satisfaction

    Patient satisfaction is the foundational first step in building downstream loyalty. Implementing pre-surgery education programs are one way planners can help solidify a positive patient experience.

    Research suggests that pre-surgery educational programs, such as "joint camps" for joint replacement patients, help solidify realistic patient expectations for surgical outcome and recovery, and improve overall satisfaction. Ensuring surgical care patients are satisfied with their care is particularly important for planners, as this group generally consumes a substantial amount of downstream services so their loyalty is high-yield.

    3. Compete under value-based care

    In order to adapt to the increasingly value-based care market, providers must lower complication and readmission rates—and surgery preparation programs do just that. In addition to decreasing length of stay, pre-and post-surgery programs also produce lower rates of complications. One such program called Enhanced Recovery After Surgery, or ERAS, sets forth a set of standardized care protocols that gets patients moving soon after surgery and reduces their recovery time. In turn, the shortened recovery period limits the risk of complications and readmission, which can lead to success under value-based care.


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