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How Digital Patient Questionnaires are Boosting Productivity in Healthcare

digital patient questionnaires
Image created by Rudy Chidiac. © Open Medical 2024. All Rights Reserved

We know that digital solutions—the right ones—can really help with productivity in healthcare. But there is one feature within these solutions that stands out. And that is digital patient questionnaires.


We’ll look into how digital patient questionnaires are making a difference in four different use cases:


  • Preoperative Assessments (POA)

  • Teledermatology questionnaires

  • Fracture Liaison Service (FLS)

  • Patient Reported Outcome Measures (PROMs)


Surgical preparedness

Digital patient questionnaires can provide a lot of crucial information required for efficient planning and preparation steps. This is especially true with preoperative assessments (POA).


Before a surgical procedure, conducting a POA is crucial. But the traditional methods of carrying out these assessments—on paper or over the phone—are inefficient. They are very resource-intensive and burden patients and healthcare providers greatly. And they give no real chance for patient optimisation because they are frequently carried out too close to the surgical date. This often results in last-minute cancellations and delays.


So while POAs are generally conducted in person, whether on paper or digitally, it is now mandated that screening be conducted for everyone on an elective waiting list, which enables the swift identification of patients who can be optimised before surgery. And this screening process is where digital patient questionnaires come in.


Currently, most screening processes are not great; it's usually over the phone, via posted paper forms, or sometimes, not at all. But with digital tools, the entire process can be streamlined, and not just with the deployment and collection of the questionnaires. For example, with Pathpoint ePOA, as soon as a patient is added to a waiting list, they are automatically sent a digital POA questionnaire as well as reminders to complete it if needed. Already, this removes a lot of the admin burden. But these digital tools can go a couple steps further. With ePOA, when the patient completes their questionnaire, the system automatically categorises the patient into low, medium, and high complexity based on the responses.


So not only does it help the completion of POAs on time, it also provides more information in a structured way to help healthcare providers quickly identify the patients who need to be picked up early, such as high complexity patients where early optimisation is crucial.


Overall, this leads to better planning and patient optimisation, which means fewer delays and cancellations, which also means reduced inpatient stays and complications, as well as significant cost savings. 


Decision-making

For healthcare providers to make effective decisions, they need a certain amount of information on the patient. But this information is often scattered across large referral documents or fragmented between different systems; it’s hard to find the relevant bits and it takes too much time.


Let’s take skin cancer care as a use case. Dermatologists need the relevant, pertinent information of patients referred with suspected skin cancer coupled with high-quality photographs of the lesion (preferably conducted in a community setting) so they can make the decision of whether the patient needs to come in, go straight to a biopsy, be discharged, etc.


So with teledermatology questionnaires, this process of gathering the needed information becomes easier. With our platform for skin cancer coordination, Pathpoint eDerma, a digital patient questionnaire is sent to patients to collect their relevant information, which is then provided to dermatologists along with images of the patients’ skin lesions for more effective decision-making.


Dermatologists save time and avoid bringing patients in when they don’t need to. So all in all, it improves decision-making, reduces unnecessary in-person visits, and saves time and resources, ultimately improving productivity.


Patient management

Digital patient questionnaires can help monitor patients’ well-being. The Fracture Liaison Service (FLS) is a great example of where these questionnaires can make a big difference.


FLS teams often deal with large volumes of patients but have limited staff. So digital patient questionnaires can help deal with this workload effectively. For example, our system, Pathpoint FLS, sends questionnaires to patients referred to the virtual fracture clinic who are eligible for FLS. The system then pre-populates the information from the questionnaire for an FLS nurse to review. If the patient is accepted, they will be automatically issued a baseline questionnaire, followed by a questionnaire at 4 and 12 months to track medication adherence, exercise, falls, and other relevant data. 


This helps small teams handle large patient volumes while keeping track of them. But it also helps to improve the identification of the patients who need treatment and then keep them on treatment. And with that, it leads to fewer fractures, which is a huge benefit to patients’ quality of life and, additionally, leads to cost savings.


Treatment impact

PROMs are designed to measure the effectiveness of healthcare interventions from the patient's perspective. 


Traditional methods of gathering these measures are often complex and time-consuming. So more often than not, not many PROMs are conducted other than the key mandated ones (and sometimes not even these!). But with digital PROMs, detailed information on health outcomes is gathered directly from the patients, providing valuable insights into the success of various treatments or if a patient needs follow-up. And when data is captured effectively, as with our Pathpoint Outcomes platform, which is SNOMED CT-coded, the acquired data is more granular, providing more in-depth insights that can inform service planning.


With these PROMs, healthcare organisations can demonstrate the effectiveness of complex interventions and improve service quality and resource allocation, thereby enhancing the overall quality and efficiency of healthcare services. And importantly, it provides the basis of the transition to value-based care.

 

Digital patient questionnaires are a powerful tool for boosting productivity and efficiency in healthcare. By leveraging patient insights and automating information collection, these digital solutions streamline processes, improve decision-making, and can help enhance patient outcomes. And not only that but the data from these questionnaires can also be used to optimise care pathways, as we’ve seen with ePOA through risk stratification or through Pathpoint FLS with prepopulating forms. The possibilities of what healthcare organisations can do with digital patient questionnaires are vast, and all of them help boost productivity. 

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