Using virtual care for patient engagement and education

Joseph Brant Hospital launches virtual care program to improve patient access to info and care transition support

Lead Organization: Joseph Brant Hospital

Area of Care: Patient Engagement and Education

Vendor: CoHealth

Objectives

  • Improve access to a patient-centred information and educational program to support care transitions  
  • Capture patient experience to inform patient engagement improvement plans 
  • Reduce paper-based processes 

Model

Joseph Brant Hospital wanted to better engage all patient and caregiver populations by supporting the delivery of multimedia education, care protocols, care management tools and links to community resources. They implemented CoHealth, a patient education platform, in May of 2019 to provide easy access for patients and their caregivers to hospital branded information and education resources and supports for seamless care-to-care and care-to-home transitions.

Patients, families and caregivers learn about the app during the registration process, through clinicians and via posters throughout the hospital. The app can be downloaded for free on smartphones and tablets without the need to be formally enrolled into the program.

Inside the hospital, the program is used in the pre-operative, oncology / cancer program, in-patient surgery and emergency department. Joseph Brant Hospital is currently working towards implementing the program within maternal child and ambulatory care programs.  To ensure patients receive the right information and education to support their care, clinicians wanted a way to provide easy access to these resources upon discharge and post appointment.  Updated information and educational content from hospital programs and clinics is made available on the app and accessible for free to all Joseph Brant patients, their families and caregivers. Paper copies of information and educational material is still available to support equitable access for patients who prefer to not download the app. but the program is growing in popularity with patients and their caregivers and the hospital has found that patients much preferred to access the relevant material through their smartphones.

Example: Cancer Care Model
Cancer care patient educational material includes the following items: 

  • What to expect when arriving   
  • Parking information  
  • Hospital navigation 
  • Patient appointments   
  • How to change your appointment 
  • Test and lab results  
  • Palliative care information   
  • Symptom management and wellness tips   
  • Home chemotherapy spill kit instructions 
  • Patients can access a chemotherapy education class presentation so when they come into the office, they are prepared with questions  
  • Resources about end of life, or survivorship 

Technology Type:

  • Collection of patient reported data (PREMs/PROMs) as well as usage, statistical and demographic data at any point of a care journey.  
  • Extend care and build relationships with patients to improve overall experiences.   
  • Direct patients to community resources, programs, services and more.   

The CoHealth App is available for free on the app store and provides patients/families and caregivers with easy access to hospital specific information, education and resources to improve their ability to manage and navigate their care journey 

Outcomes

Outcomes from the specific implementation of CoHealth at Joseph Brant are still in analysis because of the recent implementation. However, the following outcomes are from similar implementations at similar sites:

Markham Stouffville Hospital

Paper-based educational content is no longer distributed within Childbirth Services at MSH, leading to a reduction in printing costs, updates and maintenance, storage and distribution. Cost savings for printing were calculated at $16,500 CAD per year.

MSH can now:

  • Change information at no cost when edits are needed,
  • Completely eliminate storage costs and wasted space,
  • Review usage data of information and update accordingly
  • Collect patient feedback to make real-time improvements

Change Required to Support the Model

The change required from clinical staff to support the model was minimal Information and educational content was updated by the clinical program teams and presented to CoHealth to upload on the platform. CoHealth would then validate the look and feel of the material on a digital platform with clinicians before making it widely available through the app.  

Engagement with the registration and clinical staff was required to ensure that the program was offered to patients and their caregivers at several points along their care journey (i.e. at registration, during discharge). Instead of providing patients, families and caregivers with a pamphlet of information, clinicians would provide patients with a simple card introducing the app. 

Joseph Brant hospital rolled out the program to three departments initially, but advises future partners to start with one program, gather learnings and then spread to other programs.  

Joseph Brant has also included the CoHealth program as part of their Quality Improvement Plan. This added accountability to getting the program up and running as well as ensured metrics, such as PREMs/PROMs were collected.

Adoption Rate

Since May 2019, there have been over 200 downloads at Joseph Brant Hospital (as of September 2019). Overall 75,000 unique phones in Ontario have downloaded the CoHealth app to date

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